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National figures react to Prop 8 decision, expressing gratitude and relief

SAN FRANCISCO – As news spread far and wide that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that California’s Proposition 8 law was unconstitutional, supporters of marriage equality weighed in on the ruling.

To read reactions from San Diegans, click HERE.

Here is a sampling of statements issued today by nationally known figures.

Joe Solmonese, outgoing president of the Human Rights Campaign:

“Today’s decision affirms what we all know to be true – our Constitution protects the basic civil rights of all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Proposition 8 does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage. Instead, it singles out thousands of loving California families for different treatment, simply because they are gay and lesbian couples. We applaud the Ninth Circuit for recognizing that our Constitution cannot tolerate such egregious discrimination.

“We thank the courageous plaintiff couples, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies for their years of work leading to today’s decision. This is not the end of the road, for this case or for the larger struggle for marriage equality. We must all continue our work – in courthouses and statehouses, in church pews and living rooms – until equality is reality for LGBT people and our families everywhere.”

Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA’s media director:

"Proposition 8 divided California into marriage haves and have nots. Today, the court has reaffirmed what we already know in our hearts – our United States Constitution prohibits taking away the fundamental right to marry from one particular group. Everyone deserves the freedom to marry the one you love."

Kate Kendell, executive director of National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"It is a unique and honored position to be an eyewitness to history. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling finding that Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of this nation marks the first time a federal appellate court has held that a law excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry runs counter to our highest ideals of equality and fairness.  With today's ruling we are a giant step closer to the day when the promise of our Constitution squares with the lived reality of LGBT people."

Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign:

"The 9th Circuit did what it must: it ruled that Judge Walker is competent, not somehow diminished for being gay and it ruled that the Constitution of the United States indeed provides equal protection and due process to all Americans, not just some Americans. Having live-blogged every piece of this trial, especially in Judge Walker's courtroom two years ago, it became patently clear that the fringe opponents of equality would never prevail. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dynamic duo of attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies and their colleagues at the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) who took to heart that real people are hurt by Prop 8 and its evil cousins across the nation. The time for waiting has ended."

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, of California, a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus:

“I’m extremely pleased that the 9th Circuit court upheld the decision to find Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

“We should reject any law that denies certain citizens the legal rights and protections that are available to others, simply because of their sexual preference. Everyone should have the right to marry the person of their choosing. Furthermore the rights of the minority should not be voted upon. In America rights should be granted equality to all citizens across the board. I would hope this decision is upheld if an appeal moves to the Supreme Court.”

Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way:

“Today’s ruling is a major victory for equality and for the thousands of California couples who saw their marriage rights disappear four years ago.

“Proposition 8 hurt Californians. It took away the freedom of committed couples to legally marry, to raise children in security, to visit each other in the hospital and to provide for each other in old age. It hurt gay and lesbian Californians, and it hurt their friends and families. Proposition 8 wasn’t just unconstitutional – it was simply wrong.

“I congratulate all the Californians who have regained their freedom to marry, and hope that that freedom will soon be extended to every American.”

Kate Kendell,executive director of National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"It is a unique and honored position to be an eyewitness to history. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling finding that Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of this nation marks the first time a federal appellate court has held that a law excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry runs counter to our highest ideals of equality and fairness.  With today's ruling we are a giant step closer to the day when the promise of our Constitution squares with the lived reality of LGBT people."

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry:

“Today’s powerful court ruling striking down the infamous Prop 8 affirms basic American values and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one while making it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. The Ninth Circuit rightly held that a state simply may not take a group of people and shove them outside the law, least of all when it comes to something as important as the commitment and security of marriage. We salute the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought this challenge to Prop 8.

“This monumental appellate decision restores California to the growing list of states and countries that have ended exclusion from marriage, and will further accelerate the surging nationwide majority for marriage. As this and other important challenges to marriage discrimination move through the courts around the country, Freedom to Marry calls on all Americans to join us in ensuring that together we make as strong a case in the court of public opinion as our legal advocates are making in the courts of law. By growing the majority for marriage, winning more states, and tackling federal discrimination – Freedom to Marry’s ‘Roadmap to Victory’ – we maximize our chances of winning when one case or another finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayors Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Annise Parker of Houston, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry:

“As Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, we know how important marriage is to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nation. When committed couples are able to pledge their love to one another and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage, our communities flourish and our cities are more competitive. Today’s decision by the 9th Circuit reaffirms that the American Dream is possible for everyone and brings us one step closer to ending marriage discrimination once and for all. We look forward to a day when all of our citizens will be able to share fairly and equally in the freedom to marry.”

Anti-Defamation League

“Today's decision is a momentous step forward for same-sex couples who seek the fundamental right to marry. We are gratified that the court has found that there is no basis for singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license, and that such discrimination is unconstitutional. As the court stated, ‘Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’

ADL stands committed to the principle of equal treatment for same-sex couples. With this ruling, California can once again proudly demonstrate its commitment to the fight for individual liberty and freedom from discrimination for all.”

Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association:

“Research shows that marriage provides important health and wellness benefits and that same-sex couples are similar to heterosexual couples in essential ways including the fact that they are just as likely as opposite-sex couples to raise mentally healthy, well-adjusted children,” said APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD. “There is no scientific basis for denying marriage equality to same-sex couples.”

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.