Friday, May 16, 2008
Good news for gays in CA
...but the battle is far from over.
Jubilation Over Marriage Ruling, Foes Promise To Keep Fighting
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(San Francisco, California) They began arriving before dawn, many with their partners - some carrying signs supporting gay marriage, others with their children. A crowd of opponents to same-sex marriage also showed up. By 10:00 am when the California Supreme Court was to deliver its landmark ruling the area was jammed.
As news of the ruling (story) striking down the state ban on same-sex marriage reached the throng outside a massive yell of joy went out.
Shelly Bailes and Helen Pontac, her partner of 34 years embraced. They were one of the 8,000 couples who married at San Francisco city hall in 2004, only to see those marriages invalidated by an earlier high court ruling.
"The best day of my life was when I met Helen," Bailes told the Los Angeles Times. "This was as good as that."
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom called it an historic day for all of America.
The Rev Troy Perry, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches and his spouse, Phillip Ray De Blieck were part of the lawsuit that resulted in Thursday's ruling.
"We thank God that our prayers have been answered! This is a battle that our church, the Metropolitan Community Churches, has fought since I performed the first public same-sex wedding ceremony in the United States -- in Huntington Park, California, in 1969," said Perry in a statement.
Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) who crafted two bills that would have allowed same-sex marriage only see both vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he is reviewing the legal implications "of today’s ruling and, if it is determined to be necessary, draft any implementing legislation that may be needed or appropriate."
"Today’s ruling is a supreme affirmation of the sanctity of the love that two people share with one another without regard to their gender, and a victory for all Californians who believe that people should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams on equal footing," Leno said.
Schwarzenegger released a statement saying he would abide by the ruling and reiterated an earlier commitment to fight a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage which is likely to appear on November's ballot.
I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling," Schwarzenegger said in his statement.
"This is a historic day for the state of California, and a long-awaited day for the plaintiffs in this case and their families," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
"The California Supreme Court has made clear that same-sex couples in committed relationships and their families deserve the same level of respect afforded to opposite-sex couples. The court did its job by ensuring that the state constitution provides the same rights and protections for everyone. This is a decision that strengthens California families."
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) also applauded the ruling.
"California has embraced our children and affirmed our families," said Molleen Matsumura, co-chair of PFLAG’s Oakland, California chapter.
"We all know that love knows no boundary," said Lorri L. Jean, who heads the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. "Today, in the great state of California, neither does fairness and opportunity."
In New Jersey, Garden State Equality said the ruling will help put pressure on the legislature to enact a gay marriage bill.
The New Jersey supreme court ruled it unconstitutional to prevent same-sex marriage but left it up to the legislature to decide whether to allow marriage or civil unions. Lawmakers chose civil unions but a public inquiry found they did not offer the protections of marriage.
"Today the California Supreme Court produced an earthquake for equality," said Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein.
"From the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream Waters to our own Jersey Shore, millions of Americans now rise in jubilation over today’s historic advancement for freedom."
But while gays celebrated, conservatives vowed to keep the fight alive, pinning their hopes on a proposed constitutional amendment that would void the court ruling.
A coalition of religious and social conservative groups is attempting to put a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine California's current laws banning gay marriage in the state constitution.
The Secretary of State is expected to rule by the end of June whether the sponsors gathered enough signature to qualify the marriage amendment, similar to ones enacted in 26 other states.
"This decision should be a wake-up call to all Americans that our values and the foundation of our society, marriage, is being destroyed by judicial supremacy," said Jessica Echard, Executive Director of the conservative Eagle Forum. "The American people will not continue to stand by silently in the face of these activist court rulings."
Crush du Jour: Jason Varitek