Opinion: Antonio Villaraigosa puts his money into the campaign against Proposition 8

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Antonio Villaraigosa is no Gavin Newsom when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Newsom, after all, spearheaded the effort to legalize gay marriage by officiating over same-sex couples’ ceremonies at San Francisco City Hall shortly after he took office in 2004. That led to this year’s California Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s ban on such nuptials.

It also led to Proposition 8, the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot to create a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and woman -- and to the promoters’ ad airing statewide featuring Newsom in a rather unflattering light declaring same-sex marriage is a reality “whether you like it or not.”

Like Newsom, Villaraigosa is seriously toying with the idea of running for governor in 2010. He too has officiated over same-sex marriage.

Now he is putting his campaign money where his politics are. The Los Angeles mayor announced today that he is giving $25,000 to defeat Proposition 8.


‘We need to redouble our efforts now to match the flood of money raised by supporters of Prop 8,’ Villaraigosa said in a statement.

Rick Jacobs, chair of the liberal activist group Courage Campaign Issues Committee, is using the announcement in an e-mail pitch to raise more money to defeat Proposition 8. Courage Campaign is working with the on-line ActBlue site to raise money. Jacobs said today that within five hours, the appeal had netted $13,000.

Recent polls show Proposition 8 is leading. Its backers are out-raising foes, $25.4 million to $15.7 million for the opponents by the end of September.

Strategists for No-on-8 to held a news conference last week to sound an alarm that they were being heavily outspent.

That seems to have jolted gay marriage supporters. In the first two weeks of October, the No-on-8 campaign had raised $2.7 million in donations of $1,000 or more.

Backers of the measure raised $706,000 in that period, according to the California Secretary of State. However, proponents raise much of their money in increments of less than $1,000 -- and small donations won’t be disclosed until next week.

-- Dan Morain