SAN DIEGO -- With the two U.S. Supreme Court decisions handed down today considered victories for the LGBT community, people across California are ready to celebrate. With the federal Defense of Marriage Act dead and California's discriminatory Proposition 8 law on its way out, community leaders, organizations, elected officials, and everyday citizens have a lot to say.
With numerous rallies, celebrations and other events planned for this evening to commemorate this historic day, the LGBT community and its supporters are gearing up to come together and celebrate this new day of equality.
In San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood, the streets are still relatively quiet with just a lone news truck posted at the Hillcrest Pride Flag where hundreds, if not thousands of people, are expected to gather about 5 pm today. A few car horns were heard honking in celebration on University Avenue immediately following the announcement of the decisions.
Here's what people are saying ... and we'll add to it throughout the day as we see more:
Assemblymember and Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego):
"A great day to be a Californian and an American. No more second class status for same sex couples! All love is equal. Let the weddings begin. And then on to the remaining states to secure equality for all."
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego):
“Equality has rarely been achieved easily, but it's a value Americans know is worth fighting for. I am elated to know that same-sex couples now have the opportunity to marry and look forward to celebrating with friends who are no longer legally barred from pursuing their own happiness, regardless of who they love. Today is a great day to celebrate a renewed commitment to equal treatment and respect of one another, but I pledge to defend equal rights for all people as the injustice created by inequality still persists in many corners of our society.”
State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens):
“Today is a historic day for justice. The Supreme Court has weighed in on one of the most pressing issues of our time and this morning, it ruled to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. After a long fought battle, we have overcome and have risen beyond fear and discrimination.
"With today’s ruling, thousands of same-sex couples in California will be able to legally marry whom they love. For the first time in history, tens of thousands of LGBT families across the country will now be able to access federal benefits, which includes the ability to petition their same-sex foreign national partner for residency.
"For all of you naysayers and for all those who would stand in the way of equality, we are here to remind you, it just got better because we made it better and we will continue to make it better. We won’t stop until all members of the LGBT community can honestly say, “and justice for all.”
State Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego):
“At long last, loving and committed partners of the same sex can celebrate both wedding bells and the bells of liberty.
“Martin Luther King Jr. correctly foretold the history of civil rights in our country when he observed, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”
U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-52):
“It is a significant day for the American ideals of equality and fairness,” Congressman Peters said. “I am proud to stand with the LGBT community as all Americans can celebrate this news.
“With the ruling in the Proposition 8 case, Californians will now be able to marry the person who they love. This is a reaffirmation of the loving commitments that LGBT Californians are already sharing across our state.
“Further, I am glad that the Supreme Court has announced what we already knew – that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It makes clear that all couples and families are to be treated equally under the eyes of the law. It is about time we move beyond division and discrimination and instead work toward ensuring the equal rights guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution.”
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:
"Today's rulings are a legal home run for civil rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the promise of equality that is a fundamental part of our Constitution and as a result, same sex couples will no longer be treated as second class citizens at the federal level and in California.
"It's especially gratifying that same sex couples, including our veterans, will now have the more than 1,000 important federal benefits that were previously denied by the government.
"As an elected official who spoke out publicly against Prop. 8 five years ago, as someone who was fortunate to be able to marry my spouse during the time it was legal, and as a District Attorney who believes in equal protection under the law, I join in celebrating today's landmark rulings which will live in the history books as a milestone for equal rights in our country and in the state of California."
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner:
"This marks a long over-due end to federally sanctioned discrimination and the beginning of a bright, loving future for millions of Americans.
"I am proud to be a part of today’s celebration of equality which unites us toward a future where all Americans are truly equal."
San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria:
"Today is an especially proud day to be an American. When civil rights are secured for more people, our country is stronger. I am grateful to every person who loved and lived proudly and who worked hard and sacrificed to make this justice a reality.
"I will be asking the City Council's Rules Committee to examine all of the City's policies to make sure they are consistent with post-DOMA federal regulations and that our employees are afforded proper benefits."
Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling marks a significant victory for our country and for marriage equality. This means that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, and I am glad that Governor Brown is already pushing for same-sex marriages to resume in California.
"As many of you know, this issue is very personal for me and for my family. I will continue to speak out on this issue until equality is provided for all couples.”
Former San Diego City Councilmember and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio:
"I’m very pleased with the decisions to strike down DOMA, and to let marriage equality stand in California.
"With today’s court decisions, we took a big step forward for full equality. Let’s continue to change minds by touching hearts until all Americans are treated with respect, inclusion, and equal protections under the law."
Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center:
"As California becomes the 13th state (along with Washington, D.C) where same-sex couples can marry, we celebrate a monumental and historic victory for justice and equality, and a rejection of the bigoted, divisive politics that took this freedom from us 56 months ago. The Supreme Court has said that DOMA is unconstitutional and that the opponents of Prop. 8 did not have the legal standing to challenge Judge Walker’s ruling which overturned it.
"When the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center became one of the first organizations to join the fight for marriage equality in 1995, I knew it would be a long and challenging struggle. And I honestly wasn’t sure I’d see the scales of justice become as balanced as they have... at least as far as marriage is concerned. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all those who have joined and supported us in the fight—to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which took the Prop. 8 case to the Supreme Court; to Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), which won the DOMA case; and to all the other groups and activists who have fought beside us.
"Of course, though we’ve won the freedom to marry in California, our nationwide struggle for equality is far from over. Thirty-seven of our United States still reject the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. And we have yet to pass federal legislation to prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT people, let alone the broader protections from discrimination that other minorities enjoy. And, the sad truth is that equal laws do not immediately result in a society where we are treated equally."
GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz:
"At long last, the legal marriages of countless gay and lesbian couples will be afforded the same federal recognition and protections as any other. Today is a cornerstone for justice and equality -- when our nation once again moved closer to recognizing and celebrating all LGBT Americans for their contributions to our great country.
"Fairness has finally been restored in California. A majority of Americans, and now the highest Court in the land, agree that it's wrong to strip loving and committed gay and lesbian couples of the fundamental opportunity to marry the person you love. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of Californians, who can finally say 'I do' to the person they love."
Activist Robin Tyler, who, with her partner Diane Olson, were the original lesbian plaintiffs to sue for the freedom to marry in California:
Diane and I were thrilled that DOMA was struck down, and that we and other same-sex married couples, including those in the military, will receive Federal Benefits. We hope this will solve the problem for the tens of thousands of bi-national couples.
However, we were less excited about Proposition 8 not being ruled on because of 'lack of legal standing.'
Yes, we are very excited that the freedom to marry will return to California. (Although we still worry and wonder why the case wasn't filed on behalf of the two terrific couples and as a class action suit as well?) This could possibly mean that someone might challenge the ruling as just applying to these 2 couples, or at least leave it open to interpretation.
The Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 was extremely narrow which is why some of the liberal justices disagreed. In effect, rather then ruling, they just sent it back to California. Then why did the justices accept the case?
All of the major figures in the mid-20th century African American Civil rights movements firmly rejected that notion of 'states rights,' because they knew that enshrining 'states rights' over 'civil rights' would only delay full equality.
We know this also. So while we celebrate today, we know of the tremendous amount of work that has to be done. Yesterday's reversal of the successful 'voting rights act' shows how easily rights can be reversed.
So, now, more then ever, we need to keep fighting, not just for the freedom to marry nationally, but for ENDA, housing, and a comprehensive national civil rights bill that protects our entire community. Because Justice is not about Just Us.
Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO of The San Diego LGBT Community Center:
"These are truly civil rights decisions for the history books. The ruling on DOMA will mean greater security for so many families across the country, but in particular for our military families. Those brave women and men who fight for the freedom of others will finally receive a measure of the freedom and equality they so richly deserve.
"For Californians, the decision on Proposition 8 will close the door on an ugly chapter in our state’s history, where for the first – and hopefully only -- time we allowed our state Constitution to be cheapened and soiled by writing into it discrimination against a particular group of Californians. Those dark days are over, and we can’t wait to see marriage equality restored here. We extend our deepest thanks to all those who have worked so hard on these issues and who have shown our entire nation what true love and commitment looks like."
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, president of St. Paul's Foundation:
"Today, I celebrate 35 years of ordination as a priest in the church. It has never been easy to maintain a commitment to an institution that has been so historically homophobic and remains the largest barrier to LGBT people having equal access to citizenship or access to HIV prevention and health services globally. In 76 countries, it remains illegal to be LGBT as it was in Ireland where I was ordained on this day so long ago. Today, LGBT people can get married in Belfast’s City Hall and even though the church in Ireland remains the last ship in the convoy to fully accept LGBT people, the legal right as a citizen to get married has been affirmed. Today, the United States joins many other countries who have shared this painful process and marriage is no longer seen as a weapon to misuse by the majority against the minority, but “is honored among ALL people” to quote the Book of Common Prayer.
"I celebrate the honor given to me by church and state to marry many heterosexual couples over these past 35 years and am no longer burdened by the need to treat members of my congregation differently when they come to me for marriage counseling. Heterosexual and same gender couples are welcome to share fully in the sacrament of marriage. Similarly all are welcome to share the sacrament of ordination, and baptism. In my church, there are no second-class Christians. Today in the USA, here are no second class citizens.
"It has been a long journey for all of us to come to this place and we must say a prayer of thanksgiving for the many who made this possible and the millions around the world who share our joy, even though they are still seen as criminals by clergy and politicians alike. My prayer on this anniversary and on this historic day that we can turn our resources and energy from the battles now won in the USA, to the wider LGBT movement globally. There is nothing more honorable than to love and to serve others and globalization not only makes this possible, but makes it a moral imperative for this movement. We share the difficult journey with others and they hold what is sacred and true about us, even though there are times we may not believe it or our institutions do not believe it. It is now our calling as the LGBT movement to bind ourselves in sacred covenant to others around the world that are part of the same procession moving from injustice to justice, from discrimination and persecution to full citizenship and a place at the table of their own destiny. As we celebrate our joy, others will see the vulnerability of the global LGBT movement as an easy target for rage and further persecution. The struggle and the journey are not over. This is not the time to be self-congratulatory or complacent. The dreadful war machine of homophobia is being turned from us to point more directly at them and we must disarm it. No-one is fully safe and secure until this victory is won."
Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the CourageCampaign.org:
"Today the nation took another historic step towards creating a more perfect union. This is a watershed moment for equality and a clear statement from the highest court in the land that discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality. The judiciary has now caught up with the American public and the tremendous momentum our movement has had since the passage of Prop. 8 five years ago. Love should not be legislated or litigated. We hope today's rulings settle this issue once and for all as we celebrate loving couples marrying in California and across the country in the coming weeks, months and years."
San Diego Pride encouraged the community to celebrate:
"Today we stand in the light of equality! Celebrate with Pride! Hug the ones you love! Today is ours! DOMA is dead! Prop 8 is done! Join us tonight!"
San Diego's Lambda Archives is encouraging people to document this historic day:
"On a historic day like today, with DOMA and Prop 8 struck down, we hope you are able to record this moment. Take pictures, video, record the news coverage, and bring it in to the Archives for prosperity!"
Governor Jerry Brown issued this statement and press release today:
"After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state's counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted," said Governor Brown.
The effect of today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling is that the 2010 federal district court's decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is left intact and the law cannot be enforced.
In response, the Governor has directed the California Department of Public Health to advise county officials today that the district court's injunction against Proposition 8 applies statewide and that all county clerks and county registrar/recorders must comply with it. However, same-sex Californians will not be able to marry until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay of the injunction, which has been in place throughout the appeals process, is lifted.
In preparation for this outcome, Governor Brown sought an opinion from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris on whether the state, through the California Department of Public Health, can advise county clerks and registrar/recorders that they are bound by the federal district court's ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
The Attorney General concluded that the California Department of Public Health "can and should" instruct county officials that they "must resume issuing marriage licenses to and recording the marriages of same-sex"
couples. The Department will issue another letter to county officials as soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay is lifted.
The Department of Public Health letter to county officials can be found here.
The Attorney General's letter to Governor Brown can be found here.
Several community members took to Facebook to share their joy, including a few same-sex couples who say they now plan to get married:
"As I post with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, I sit hand in hand with the love of my life Allan McGavin. We are elated and ecstatic to learn that on this date June 26th 2013, we have become equal citizens of this great nation. The US Supreme Court has ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and that same sex couples throughout the US deserve the same recognition and benefits if our straight counterparts. They also ruled that thaw group defending California's proposition 8 in the highest court of the land, did not have the authority to do so, and thus the appellate decision of the CA Supreme Court stands. Prop 8 is unconstitutional and California will resume recognizing same-sex marriages. This is an historic day in my life, in American history, and in the move for full civil rights! Congratulations to our married friends... We will be joining you soon! "
"Scott Kiefer and I were gonna get married in October no matter what. It's nice to know that now our marriage will be 'valid and recognized in the State of California' and by the Federal government of the United States!"
"almost five years coming... Ivan Garcia and i are legally married! what a great day... I DO!"
"Amidst bountiful tears in the car upon hearing the rulings, I feel the most incredible weight lifted off my shoulders. As one half of a bi-national couple, today will forever alter our future. Now, I can finally start planning my bridal registry."
"Ready to apply for the fiance visa: Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen is the recipient of an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, who has been issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States in order to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Both the U.S. citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place."
"This is an amazing moment for LGBT couples who have felt like second class citizens within their own country for so long!"
"I need to call in sick today to watch Rachel Maddow talk about these marriage equality victories all day. Yay! Don't forget yesterday's setback in racial equality though! Equality for all."
Pastor Richard McCullen
"Praise GOD on Prop 8!"
"Today is a very good day."
"Today it got better - a little better to be an American, and a lot better to be a Californian."
Paul H. Richardson Jr.
"Today is a HUGE step forward in the fight towards equality for ALL! Thank you to everyone that has supported me and my community!!! Have a GAY day."
"Celebrate today! Celebrate love, Celebrate life! ♥"
"LOVE wins! DOMA declared unconstitutional and Prop 8 dismissed meaning we have marriage equality again in California!! I am absolutely overjoyed (some tears may have popped out of my eyes)!!"
Sara Beth Brooks
"Four and a half years ago when Prop 8 passed in California, many of us were not sure how or when this day would come. We took to the streets and tried to return to the ballot, and we took to the courts of both public opinion and law. Today's victories are much sweeter because we shared these trenches together, and I look forward to fighting for#morethanmarriage very, very soon. I love you all so much. Xo"
"Okay, love warriors, order another tall coffee and let's roll up our sleeves for full equality - for our Transgender sisters and brothers, for our LGBT family living in the wastelands of our country where queer folk can be fired and evicted and jailed. Raise our voices for our homeless, for our disenfranchised, for our immigrant sisters and brothers. For America."
"Papa" Tony Lindsey
"Previously, we had all sorts of plans for the evening tonight.
"That's all superseded by tonight's historic rally and march in Hillcrest. Now that marriage is legal in California, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act is defeated, it's time to celebrate, and to REPRESENT our Tribe. Everybody can get married if they want to, now, just as my husband Dennis and I did! EVERYBODY deserves to be this happy!"