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newsomparty.jpgLOS ANGELES - Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's Twitter handle and photographs of gay weddings he oversaw while mayor of San Francisco lit up the side of The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites on Saturday night, and for a few hours at the California Democratic Party's annual convention no politician was in higher demand.

At a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the "winter of love" - the precursor to years of debate over same-sex marriage and, eventually, the overturning of California's gay marriage ban - hundreds of supporters drank cocktails on a poolside patio and crowded around Newsom to heap praise on the lieutenant governor.

"If you were any cuter, I might throw up right now," said Carnie Wilson, a member of Wilson Phillips, which played at the event. "Gavin, you are one awesome human being."

For gay rights advocates, the event highlighted how far their movement has come in the years since gay marriage was outlawed here.

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For political watchers, it was a reminder that Newsom has not always occupied the least influential of statewide offices, and that he maintains a base of support that will benefit him if he runs for higher office in four years.

"I'm grateful for the folks behind me, for their courage, for standing on their principle," Newsom told the crowd. "They didn't have to show up in 2004 when we opened up the doors. They didn't have to show up and say, 'I do,' and continue with the sense of faith and love and devotion and constancy as they have for the last ... 10 years."

A decade ago, he said, "We started a conversation ... It was millions of those conversations that were won that ultimately has led to where we are today."

PHOTO: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses supporters at a party at the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles, while an image of his Twitter handle is projected on a wall on March 9, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders



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