For Whom the Wedding Bells Also Ring: Bay Area Politicians

by Matthew S. Bajko
Wednesday Jul 10, 2013

With same-sex marriage legal once again in California, Bay Area out politicians and their longtime partners are now discussing if wedding bells will be ringing for them.

For one East Bay politician, the answer came Sunday.

Rebecca Saltzman, an out lesbian who was elected to the BART board last year, married her longtime partner Cat Stone in a late afternoon ceremony Sunday, June 30 in Oakland's Jack London Square neighborhood amid the looming threat that the Bay Area's main public transit agency would go on strike at midnight.

Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf , a friend of the couple's, officiated and there were about 40 guests on hand.

Saltzman and Stone had a wedding ceremony two years ago at the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills. But the union was not legally recognized because at that time Proposition 8, the state's same-sex marriage ban, was in place.

However, last Friday, upon hearing that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had lifted the stay of a lower court decision that ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional, Saltzman rushed to the Alameda County Clerk's office for a marriage license. Then, in between BART board meetings, she and Stone hastily planned their ceremony for Sunday. Both women's parents were able to attend.

Saltzman told the Bay Area Reporter at the reception that she wasn't sure of the status of BART negotiations (she, as a board member, was not a direct participant in the talks).

"I took a couple hours off to get married," she said.

Unfortunately, BART talks broke down Sunday night, leading to the strike that began Monday, crippling the Bay Area commute.

Across the bay in San Francisco, gay state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) contracted what he called "mad vow disease," adding, "it is taking over San Francisco and there is no cure." He proposed to his longtime partner, Carolis Deal, while being interviewed during the live broadcast of the Pride parade.

"I am going to make some history here and propose. We are going to do it," Ammiano told Sebastian Kunz, the on-the-parade-route reporter for the online broadcast, which was later shown on local cable channel KOFY.

An aide for Ammiano told the B.A.R. that the couple, who first became friends 30 years ago and later began to date, is looking to wed sometime in the fall, most likely in a private ceremony with family.

Gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos also got engaged to his partner, Phil Hwang, and are also planning a private wedding ceremony for sometime later this year.

"We are going to do it," Campos, who has been with Hwang 17 years, told the B.A.R.

All weekend Campos said people were asking if the two would marry.

"For me it is odd, because I am a public figure but Phil is really private," he said about fielding queries on their wedding plans.

The resumption of the gay nuptials in California and the dual court decision lifting the ban on the federal government from recognizing same-sex weddings "definitely made this Pride so special," said Campos.

"We have been together a very long time, so in that sense, it doesn't change things. But there is something about being recognized by the state, and our own government feels our relationship is worthy of recognition, that is very nice," he said. "I feel, for the first time, we have been recognized as full human beings."

Gay San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros, who married more than a dozen same-sex couples over the weekend at City Hall, also has been facing questions on if he and his partner, Mark Kelleher, will tie the knot. This August will mark their 22nd anniversary together.

They have discussed getting married but are not yet ready to announce any wedding plans.

"It is a wait and see situation. We are going to take our time and figure out what is right for us," said Cisneros, who is more immediately focused on his re-election campaign this fall. "We always said when the time came to plan it, we would figure it out. We are going to take one step at a time and include our families in the decisions and planning."

Poll Asks About SF Assembly Race

A local poll conducted last week included a question about the race next year for Ammiano's 17th Assembly District seat, as he will be termed out of office.

The survey asked people if they would be more likely to vote for either Campos or Board President David Chiu, who represents District 3. Both are widely expected to seek the state legislative seat that covers San Francisco's eastern neighborhoods.

It is unclear who paid for the poll, which also included a wide array of hot button local issues, from the Warrior's planned waterfront arena and Sunday parking meters to the city's clean energy program and the public school selection process.

Neither of the potential candidates has yet created campaign committees, thus they were not behind the poll. The SF Chamber of Commerce also said it did not conduct it.

While Chiu has no immediate plans to make any announcement about his candidacy, Campos is expected to announce later this month if he will run for the seat.

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