Among those celebrating today’s historic marriage equality rulings, particularly the demise of the anti-gay California law known as Proposition 8, are the many local and state LGBT elected officials.
Many have either married their spouses, and are now eligible for federal benefits due to the striking down of a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or officiated at the weddings of countless same-sex couples over the years.
Gay State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who a decade ago led the fight in the state Legislature as an assemblyman to secure marriage rights for LGBT Californians, praised the rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court for fulfilling the U.S. Constitution’s promise “that all men and women are created equal and as such must be treated equally under the law.”
In a statement issued by his office shortly after the Prop 8 ruling was announced, Leno called the justices’ decisions “defining moments for our country, landmark affirmations of basic civil rights by our nation’s highest court and long sought victories for thousands of couples who wish to honor their commitment to one another through the institution of marriage.”
Also hailing the decision was gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), who plans to join the celebrations tonight in Sacramento set to take place at 6 p.m. on the West steps of the state Capitol.
“Thank you, Supremes, for stopping the Proposition 8 and DOMA madness in the name of love. Now any Californian will be able to marry the person he or she loves and the federal government will recognize that marriage,” stated Ammiano.
He added that the developments this morning are “not total victory, of course,” since “there are LGBT people in most states who don’t have marriage equality yet.”
Thus, added Ammiano, the struggle for LGBT rights has yet to end.
“We still have to watch out to protect the rights of lesbians, gays and transgender people – and all people who suffer discrimination or inequality for any reason,” stated Ammiano. “Let’s keep building on the Bill of Rights, and make sure no one loses out because of where they come from, because of how poor they are or because of who they love.”
One of the few married LGBT leaders in the state, gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park), thanked the Supreme Court for striking down DOMA so that he and his husband, Dr. Dennis McShane, could qualify for the more than 1,000 federal rights granted to married people.
“Marriage equality has been a priority and a dream of the LGBT community for decades. Today, with the Supreme Court’s announcements, we are realizing that dream and we now celebrate equal marriage rights for all Californians,” stated Gordon, chair of the Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. “In 2008, I had the privilege of marrying my partner of 26 years. This was one of the greatest days of my life, as we were finally able to stand together and say, in front of our friends, family and loved ones, ‘We are a family.’ This is an experience that many loving couples have been unjustly denied until now.”
Taking part in the celebration this morning inside San Francisco City Hall, gay Supervisor Scott Wiener told the crowd of several hundred people that he looks forward to the day later this summer when he comes to work and sees LGBT couples among the many brides and grooms who choose to have civil marriages under the building’s historic dome.
“A lot of marriages are constantly happening in this rotunda,” said Wiener. “For three years I have seen a constant reminder that there were no gay people getting married. Those marriages are going to get a little more diverse.”
His board colleague, gay Supervisor David Campos, said that it was “a very emotional moment for those of us in the LGBT community” because the decisions mean that “our own government recognizes we are people who deserve to have dignity and respect. That is what this means.”
Gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low, who is seeking a South Bay Assembly seat in 2014, said he plans to celebrate with his town’s families and the nation “on this historic day.”
“As an openly gay mayor who was able to officially marry others, but not get married myself, I now have renewed faith in our democracy and applaud those who have advocated and fought for true equality,” stated Low, who was elected to the ceremonial mayoralty for 2013 by his fellow council members. “The next step is to win the hearts and minds of others in the 38 states that still prohibit gays and lesbians to marry.”
Lesbian Oakland At-Large City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan announced that the East Bay city would host a street party tonight (Wednesday, June 25) to celebrate the rulings from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Uptown Art Park, located at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland.
In an email to supporters, Kaplan said the court’s rulings are “a profound victory for same-sex couples – and for love and humanity.”
She added that, “Our city has long been a place of diversity and inclusion – and overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 8.”