(CNSNews.com) - Days before San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Feb. 12, top aides to Mayor Gavin Newsom routinely consulted with homosexual activists in what one pro-family group says amounts to a conspiracy to break California law.
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm, reveal that three homosexual advocacy groups in San Francisco shared information with the mayor's office, ranging from "talking points" on same-sex marriage to legal advice.
Given Newsom's friendly attitude toward homosexuals, critics of same-sex marriage weren't surprised by the coordination. But the revelation should serve as proof that Newsom's staff conspired to break the law, said Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families.
"Conspiracy to break the law is a felony. This paperwork proves there was more than one person who intended to break the law," Thomasson said. "This evidence shows that Attorney General Bill Lockyer was severely derelict of duty by not filing conspiracy charges against several individuals in San Francisco."
The records were part a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch on Feb. 23. Even though Judicial Watch believes more documents exist, Tom Fitton, the law firm's president, said the information sheds light on the actions taken prior to the issuance of licenses.
"These documents are an indication of what we suspected," Fitton said. "They were working with outside groups hand-in-glove, and we think it contributes to the public debate on the matter to find out who the mayor was working with and whose agenda was being implemented here."
Fitton said Judicial Watch might file a lawsuit to "get the core documents" that he believes exist. A spokeswoman for the mayor, meanwhile, said the office already has supplied everything.
Senior officials in the mayor's office didn't respond to CNSNews.com's repeated requests for an interview. Others named in the documents, however, dismissed suggestions that they did anything wrong by consulting with Newsom's top aides.
"There was certainly no conspiracy. I'm not sure what that would even mean," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. E-mails Minter sent to mayoral aides included legal information, frequently asked questions and internal talking points.
"After the mayor came to this decision, he quite naturally wanted to consult with the [homosexual] community, and in particular with the LGBT legal organizations," Minter explained. "That's a completely normal course of events. If a public official is going to do something of great significance to a particular community, he or she would want to be in consultation with that community."
Newsom's top aides - chief of staff Steve Kawa, senior adviser Mike Farrah and policy director Joyce Newstat - were the main recipients of the information along with Therese Stewart, the chief deputy city attorney. It is no secret that Kawa, Newstat and Stewart are homosexuals.
The senders of the e-mails included Minter and his boss, Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Tamara Lange, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, was also copied on some of the messages.
Lange's e-mail was dated Feb. 9 at 2:33 p.m., the earliest document released by the mayor's office. It includes four pages of talking points that were complied by Belden Russonello & Stewart, a research firm in Washington, D.C.
Based on Newsom's comments to the press on Feb. 12, he followed some of the advice. One of the recommendations advises:
"Talk about marriage as commitment, sharing, loving relationships, and a personal choice that should not be denied to couples just because they are the same sex. Avoid terms such as 'gay marriage,' 'same-sex marriage,' 'civil marriage,' or others because they only serve to set gay couples apart as different and do more harm than good for long-term communications."
Although Lange said she doesn't know how the information was used, she noted that the copy provided to her by CNSNews.com had various comments written on it. She also dismissed the suggestion that activists inspired Newsom's decision.
"I can say point-blank that this was an idea that was raised first by the mayor's office and brought to us," Lange said. "We did not approach the mayor's office. Obviously, we support the mayor's decision, but we did not initiate it with Mayor Newsom."
Newsom reportedly first got the idea about issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Jan. 20, the night of President Bush's State of the Union address, when Bush called for the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and woman.
It wasn't until Feb. 6, a little more than two weeks later, when Kendell first learned about the plan. She said Kawa notified her.
"I was stunned and shocked and astonished," Kendell said. "It never occurred to me in a million years that Gavin Newsom would contemplate such a thing."
The reason, Kendall said, was Newsom's initial lukewarm support by those in the homosexual community. Even among board members at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kendell said there was a split between Newsom and his Green Party opponent Matt Gonzalez in the mayoral race.
Judicial Watch's Fitton said he remains skeptical of Newsom's motives. He said the documents show the decision was a "special-interest matter" carried out "quite literally in the dark of night."
"Clearly, they were thinking about this long before the State of the Union," Fitton said. "This was an activist agenda that was clearly implemented through the government. It was not a normal decision. How could it have been? It violated state of California law."
Added Thomasson of the Campaign for California Families: "The homosexual activists are in control of the government of San Francisco. Gavin Newsom is the homosexuals' representative and he is controlled by their sexual agenda."
Ex-homosexuals also questioned Newsom's objectives. Pro-Family Network founder Greg Quinlan, who once ran the Dayton, Ohio, branch of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, said there is a well-coordinated effort by homosexuals to redefine marriage.
"Come on, he's the mayor of San Francisco," Quinlan said. "You don't win there without the support of the homosexual politicos. He moved solely at the concert and direction of the homosexual lobby, period."
At Exodus, a Christian ministry for ex-homosexuals, spokesman Randy Thomas said there has been a clear shift among homosexual advocacy groups.
"As a former homosexual, when I was involved in the 1980s promoting the gay agenda, our only focus was to seek tolerance," Thomas said, "whereas today's political activism has moved from true tolerance into political domination and power. It's an amazing thing to watch a group that said they were oppressed become oppressors."
But at the ACLU's national headquarters, Matt Coles, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, had a different assessment of the situation.
"The notion that any branch of government - state, local or federal - does the bidding of the ACLU, I have to say is just delicious," Coles said. "In 84 years, the vast bulk of what we've done is sue government. The notion that we don't have to do that - we just have to send a memo over to get any government agency to toe the line - I think is charming."
Coles said he sees nothing wrong with sharing information like the ACLU's talking points with the mayor's office if it helps the public better comprehend an issue like same-sex marriage.
"Did the mayor have these documents? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? I can't see what's possibly wrong with it," Coles said. "He told us he was going to do this, and we said, this is how we talk about it."
Fitton, however, said a lawsuit would still likely be forthcoming from Judicial Watch.
"We think this is the tip of the iceberg," Fitton said, "and we suspect we're going to have to file a lawsuit to really get the core documents."
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