California governor’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom adopts ‘first partner’ title

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who has adopted the title of 'first aprtner' in a bid for equality, speaks at her husband's Gavin Newsom primary election night gathering on June 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

The Governor of California’s wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom has adopted the title of ‘First Partner’ rather than the conventional ‘First Lady.’

The decision was not formally announced. Instead, a page on the Governor of California’s website dedicated to Siebel Newsom introduces her as ‘First Partner.’

Siebel Newsom’s description on her Twitter account also reflected the ‘First Partner’ title.

Her choice was swiftly honoured by those who sought to congratulate her and her husband Gavin Newsom on his inauguration as governor on January 7.

Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted a picture with the married couple on inauguration day, writing: “To Governor Gavin Newsom and first partner Jen Siebel Newsom, congratulations and best of luck. It is a great honor to serve the people of CA and I’m proud of you. I am here if you need anything at all.”

Gavin Newsom (L) is sworn in as governor of California by California Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye (R) as Newsom's wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom (C), watches on January 7, 2019 in Sacramento, California

Jennifer Siebel Newsom (C), watches her husband’s inauguration at governor of California on January 7, 2019. (Stephen Lam/Getty)

Newsom declared his support for his wife’s decision, sharing a news report on the ‘first partner’ title on Twitter on January 9 and commenting: “Beyond proud of Jen Siebel Newsom. Thanks to brave women like you who have demanded change, our country has seen major shifts in cultural attitudes and behaviors about gender. But it’s not just women’s work—it’s men’s work too. It’s all our work.”

Newsom’s comment framed Siebel Newsom’s decision in terms of gender equality, one that will also help normalise the idea of same-sex couples holding official positions.

The only—and first—same-sex couple currently living in a governor’s mansion are Jared Polis and Marlon Reis in Colorado.

Polis, who has two children with Reis, introduced his partner on election night (November 6) as “Colorado’s first man,” but, as The Denver Post reported at the time, the Polis campaign said Reis would hold the title ‘First Gentleman.’

Who is Jennifer Siebel Newsom?

Siebel Newsom’s decision to adopt a gender-neutral title reflects her longstanding effort to promote gender equality.

Siebel Newsom worked as an actor and producer for about a decade before writing and directing the award-winning 2011 documentary Miss Representation, analysing sexism in media and politics.

She later directed and produced the documentary The Mask You Live In, which focused on how a narrow understanding of masculinity is damaging boys, men and the larger society.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom attends a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom decision to adopt a gender-neutral title reflects her longstanding effort to promote gender equality. (Jesse Grant/Getty)

Her biography on the Governor of California’s website also lists her studies at Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, as well as her affiliation to organisations promoting gender equality, such as the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and The Imagine Bus Project, The Common Sense Media Gender Initiative, and Emerge America, where she serves on their respective advisory boards.

Finally, the biography mentions her family life: “She and her husband Governor Gavin Newsom are the proud parents to their four young children and greatest achievements—Montana, Hunter, Brooklynn, and Dutch.”