Gavin Newsom has always played a starring role in the same-sex marriage debate, but in recent weeks that role has turned decidedly unheroic.

The mayor has become the reluctant face of the campaign opposing same-sex unions with the help of a prominent Yes-on-Proposition-8 television ad. Conservative blogs have been atwitter about Newsom last week officiating at the wedding of a lesbian teacher whose class of first-graders took a field trip to celebrate with her.

In many ways, Newsom has become the single best campaign tool for proponents of Prop. 8 - and that might have been inevitable, political experts said.

“His pictures have become the rallying cry for Prop. 8. It’s unfortunate for him, and it’s unfortunate for the anti-Prop. 8 campaign,” said Barbara O’Connor, a professor of political communications at California State University Sacramento. “I don’t know that I would change his behavior, because he’s representing his constituency, and he’s been totally consistent in his position. But he’s become everyone’s worst nightmare.”

Indeed, analysts say the mayor should be trying his best to keep out of the same-sex marriage spotlight - something that Newsom’s handlers, and even the mayor himself, say he’s been trying to do.

Newsom has led several college campus rallies against Prop. 8 and has hosted private fundraisers for the campaign. Last week, he sent an e-mail to 20,000 supporters asking for donations to the campaign.

Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle.