Local gay rights supporters cheer Prop. 8 ruling
Local supporters of gays’ right to marry are celebrating a federal judge’s decision Wednesday to overturn Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
“I’m just exhilarated by the decision,” said the Rev. Laura Rose, who signed on to a “friend of the court” brief attached to the case. “I’m glad to know that justice is unfolding.”
Rose and others said Wednesday afternoon that they weren’t surprised by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling, though they expect it will be appealed. Walker stayed his decision as he decides whether to suspend it while it is being appealed, and same-sex couples will not be able to wed while the stay is in place.
Still, local gay marriage supporters said the ruling marks progress in their quest for parity with heterosexual couples, and that Californians are increasingly open to it. Rose cited a report showing that Proposition 8 would lose if voted on today.
“As it proceeds, my hope is that more or more people will understand the absolute necessity to have equal rights for all people. And that’s what this is about,” said Karen Kenney, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Island City. Kenney, who is heterosexual, said she’d like to see gays gain “full citizenship,” gaining the right to marry and other rights afforded heterosexual couples.
Sean Cahill said news of the ruling sent his two children into a flurry of wedding planning. He and his longtime partner, Karry Kelley, had opted to wait, missing the six-month window of time when they could have legally wed here. Cahill said it’s hard to be patient, while the value of your life and relationships are judged.
“Waiting for acceptance is never easy,” he said.
David Gunderman has married his partner, Andrew Raskopf, three times, including once while the unions were legal. But Proposition 8 has caused tensions between Gunderman and his sister, who he said told him she wouldn’t cast a vote on it in deference to her husband, who favored it, and fears for his children and other children of gay couples locally, who believed their parents would no longer be able to live together.
Gunderman said he expects the case could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If we get all the way to the federal (level), I’ll suddenly be on complete equal footing with my sister. And wouldn’t that be a lovely place to continue our conversation,” he said.
Allan Mann said he was “delighted” by the ruling, though he’s “not going to get real excited” until the federal government recognizes same-sex unions.
“It’s just a matter of time before it all sorts itself out and before everyone comes around to the idea that this is about basic human rights and non-discriminatory laws,” Mann said.