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Sanders' Tears

As luck -- or life -- would have it, I was not at the press conference where Mayor Jerry Sanders cried as he revealed he had changed his mind , that he would not veto the council's support of gay marriage after all. But when I heard the tape, as he struggled to speak without breaking down, I felt the power of his emotion.

So it was a surprise to me when I heard a listener commenting that, though she was glad the mayor made that decision, she wondered why he was crying; surely having a gay daughter isn't THAT bad! And then someone else asked me what Sanders' tears were about, and whether they might partly be for all the support he knew he was losing among his conservative base, by taking that stand.

I have watched the mayor since he first announced his candidacy and I am compelled to say I feel his tears were not about what he was losing, but about what he had found.

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It was a letting-go of the official mantle of conservative views he has had to adopt to represent those who put him in office (and who will keep him there, assuming he toes the line).

Businessman Steve Francis is breathing down his neck as the campaign season begins and Sanders is holding him at bay. The mayor is working to appease business interests who want to see managed competition happen faster, and hold the line for voters who balk at the mere mention of rate increases, even as the city's infrastructure continues to crumble.

But this week's decision on gay rights was an opening of the heart that was so strong, Sanders went against his better political judgment and revealed his true feelings, making himself vulnerable to unknown political consequences.

Anyone who has struggled with their conscience and then found they had to let go of the fear to find the love, knows what this feels like. So in this case, I, for one, choose not to be the skeptical journalist, but to take what I heard in Sanders' voice at face value, applaud his courage, and leave the sniping for another day.

-- Reporter Alison St John has covered city hall since 2003. Please read our guidelines before posting comments.