In the immediate aftermath of the
But the actions of a Republican mayor in San Diego may also be said to have played a role in helping to shift public opinion.
The year was 2007 and the City Council had voted to join a lawsuit pending before the California Supreme Court attempting to overturn a ban on gay marriage.
Instead, Sanders abruptly reversed his opposition and announced, "I've decided to lead with my heart ... to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice."
He said he could not tell his daughter, Lisa, who is gay, that her relationship with her partner was less important than that of a straight couple.
A video of Sanders' tearful announcement went viral. Just a week earlier he had announced his reelection bid.
Pundits suggested that Sanders, a former police chief, had ruined his political future in the Republican Party. Gay marriage opponents held rallies.
In an editorial,
In the years that followed, Sanders has followed through: supporting the political and legal opposition to
He was reelected easily in 2008 and remains undoubtedly the most popular political figure in San Diego.
On Friday, Sanders, now chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, was attending a reelection fundraiser for Mayor
"She was whooping it up," said Sanders. He declined any credit for himself in the shift of public opinion and praised those who "have had the courage to step forward and say they are gay."