Online Extra: Wedding Bell Blues: Rickard recognized forbinational couples work
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The White House will honor a San Jose woman Tuesday, March 26 for her efforts to push for same-sex binational couples' rights.
Judy Rickard, 65, who's married to a foreign-born woman, is to be recognized as one of 11 Cesar Chavez "Champions of Change."
A White House news release called Rickard "a pioneer" and noted she's the author of Torn Apart – United by Love, Divided by Law, among other achievements.
"I'm beyond amazed and humbled to be selected for my work on immigration reform that includes same-sex binational families," Rickard said in a phone interview Monday, March 25.
She said she applied for a green card for her wife, UK-born Karin Bogliolo, 72, in January 2012. Since then, the couple has been afraid to leave the country together.
"If Karin were to leave now, she most likely wouldn't be able to get back in," Rickard said.
That's meant watching their son's wedding in Scotland via Skype, and not being able to visit their daughter when she had surgery in England.
"We're really tired of the federal government controlling our lives and restricting our rights," Rickard said.
President Barack Obama has called for immigration legislation to include same-sex binational couples, but its not clear how likely it is that will happen.
Tuesday's event "will honor those who embody the spirit of Cesar Chavez's legacy and commit themselves to working in their communities to advocate and organize around immigration-related issues," White House officials said.
To view Tuesday's honors, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/live at 7 a.m. PST.
SF officials in Washington for hearings
When the Supreme Court justices hear arguments around Prop 8 Tuesday, there will be plenty of San Franciscans on hand.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera will be there, as will members of his staff, including Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, an out lesbian who's helped lead the city's efforts to win marriage equality.
The city of San Francisco is a party in the federal Prop 8 lawsuit, Hollingsworth v. Perry, which seeks to overturn Prop 8. American Foundation for Equal Rights brought the case on behalf of two same-sex couples. After a federal appeals court upheld a district court judge's ruling that the law is unconstitutional, opponents of marriage equality appealed to the high court.
"I'm confident about a victory," Herrera said Monday. "We're looking forward to going to court tomorrow."
He said Prop 8's backers have offered "virtually no defense" of the measure, and he's "very interested to see how the justices grill them."
At least one former city official is also in D.C. State Attorney General Kamala Harris, who declined to defend Prop 8, will be at the court (she appeared on CNN's State of the Union Sunday.) Harris was previously the city's district attorney.
Reporter Lisa Keen secured one of the coveted seats in the courtroom and will be providing coverage for the Bay Area Reporter and other media outlets.
EQCA hints at future fight against Prop 8
While continuing its efforts to rally people around same-sex marriage, Equality California is getting ready in case the U.S. Supreme Court rules against gay and lesbian couples in June. The nation's top court will hear oral arguments on Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, Tuesday.
In a March 21 email blast, EQCA Executive Director John O'Connor said, "This is a historic moment for the freedom to marry, and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. And by coming together now, we can show the breadth of our movement and the power of our love."
The justices, who on Wednesday, March 27 will hear arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, are expected to announce their decisions on the marriage cases in June. Regardless of what they decide, O'Connor said, "we know that marriage for same-sex couples will return to California, and we will do whatever we need to do to ensure that happens."
In the email, O'Connor asked for money "so Equality California can continue its public education campaign to win the hearts and minds of Californians and build support for the freedom to marry," he said.
Asked in a phone interview whether the message meant EQCA would be backing a ballot measure, spokesman Steve Roth said, "It really just means all options are on the table."
"We don't want to get ahead of the Supreme Court decision," but the LGBT lobbying group will "do whatever we need to do to ensure" that same-sex marriage becomes legal in California.
Former EQCA executive director Geoff Kors was a member of the No on Prop 8 Executive Committee, which was criticized after voters passed the measure in November 2008. Among the complaints were a lack of outreach to minorities and communities in the state's conservative Central Valley. That seems to be changing as for the past few years, EQCA has had field workers and others reach out to potential voters.
EQCA opted not to pursue a ballot measure in 2012 to repeal Prop 8. One group that criticized that decision was Love Honor Cherish. The Los Angeles-based organization has failed in its own efforts to undo the anti-gay law.
"We're confident the court will rule correctly" on Prop 8, LHC board Chair Tom Watson said Monday. He said in the "unlikely" event the court rules against same-sex couples, his organization would back an effort to put the issue before voters again, "but we have no official position."
Rainbow flag to be flown at City Hall
"As a mark of support for marriage equality," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee ordered the rainbow flag to be flown at City Hall starting Monday night and through Wednesday, March 27 as the Supreme Court hearings take place, Lee's office announced Monday.
On the eve of these historic hearings of the U.S. Supreme Court, we take one step closer to marriage equality," Lee stated. "Never before have we been more united in our commitment to justice for gay and lesbian Americans, with the President and a majority of Californians and the American people behind us."
He added, "Here in San Francisco, we stand ready to once again to begin marrying same sex couples. We remain as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were nearly nine years ago when then Mayor Gavin Newsom led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all.
Actions in San Francisco eventually led to the Prop 8 Supreme Court case.
Rainbow flags were also to be flown in Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro, and Hayward. In several cities Monday, marriage equality supporters were set to take part in local marches for equality.
Wedding Bell Blues is an online column looking at various issues related to the marriage equality fight in California and elsewhere. Please send column ideas or tips to Seth Hemmelgarn at or call (415) 861-5019. Wedding Bell Blues appears every other Tuesday.