SAN DIEGO -- An emotional Mayor Jerry Sanders on Wednesday abruptly reversed his public opposition to same-sex marriage.
Sanders, tears welling and voice breaking, said he realized that he could not tell his daughter Lisa, who is gay, that her relationship with a partner is not as important as that of a straight couple.
“I’ve decided to lead with my heart. . . to take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice,” he said haltingly.
He signaled his change before signing a City Council resolution aimed at overturning the state’s ban on same-sex unions.
Sanders, a Republican and ex-police chief, announced this week that he is seeking reelection. His political base includes conservative voters, many of whom oppose gay marriage.
In 2000, 62% of San Diego voters endorsed a statewide measure to restrict marriage to a union between a man and woman.
The council voted 5 to 3 on Tuesday to back a lawsuit pending before the California Supreme Court attempting to overturn the gay marriage ban.
Before Tuesday’s vote, Sanders had told council members that he would veto any action in which they favored the lawsuit.
“Mayor Sanders has demonstrated the deepest level of political courage,” said Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, director of the San Diego Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center.