Wave of joy in Cal­i­for­nia greets ex­pan­sion of gay rights in U. S.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Hai­ley Bran­son- Potts, Jerome Camp­bell and Lee Rom­ney

The news spread across Cal­i­for­nia through a f lurry of tweets, texts, likes, links and media alerts: Same- sex mar­riage is now the law of the land.

Cal­i­for­nia le­gal­ized same- sex mar­riage two years ago, but sup­port­ers here said they were no less elated Fri­day to learn that the U. S. Supreme Court had ex­tended the right to all Amer­i­cans. In­deed, the his­toric news moved many to tears, shouts of joy and spon­ta­neous cel­e­bra­tion.

Politi­cians took to the stage to high­light Cal­i­for­nia’s role in the strug­gle for mar­riage equal­ity, while celebri­ties on so­cial media marked the oc­ca­sion with vi­ral hash­tags such as #LoveWins and #Equal­i­tyForAll.

“It’s a gay hol­i­day. Or at least it should be,” said 22- year- old David Brook­ton. The Hol­ly­wood Hills pho­tog­ra­pher hit the street with a rain­bow f lag af­ter he saw the news on Face­book.

“It just shows that love al­ways beats hate, no mat­ter how long you have to wait,” he said.

Michael Koontz, 34, and Gary Gangi, 31, were

trav­el­ing from Palm Springs to Los An­ge­les when the news f illed their Twit­ter feeds. They told their driver to pull over.

On the shoul­der of the road, with traf­fic whizzing past, Gangi got on one knee and placed a ring on Koontz’s f inger. The cou­ple of six years had long dis­cussed mar­riage. Now was the time.

“It was a mag­i­cal mo­ment,” Gangi said.

In San Fran­cisco, where the state’s same- sex mar­riage move­ment be­gan more than a decade ago, the rul­ing came just be­fore the city’s an­nual Gay Pride week­end. Cel­e­brants con­verged on City Hall, where, co­in­ci­den­tally, Gov. Jerry Brown and U. N. Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki- moon were at­tend­ing a cer­e­mony cel­e­brat­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the United Na­tions Char­ter.

“At long last, mar­riage equal­ity in the U. S.,” San Fran­cisco Mayor Ed Lee said to thun­der­ous ap­plause. “We started that move­ment right here when [ then- Mayor] Gavin New­som dared to marry lov­ing same- sex cou­ples right un­der this dome.”

Tucked be­hind a U. N. ban­ner sat the bust of for­mer San Fran­cisco County Su­per­vi­sor Har­vey Milk, the f irst openly gay elected leader in Cal­i­for­nia, who was as­sas­si­nated in 1978. “Har­vey’s bust was look­ing down, and to­day the smile is broader,” said his nephew, Stu­art Milk.

In Los An­ge­les, Mayor Eric Garcetti choked up at a news con­fer­ence as he re­called of­fi­ci­at­ing at the mar­riage of Coun­cil­man Mike Bonin and his hus­band. “To­day, the page has turned,” Garcetti said. “To­day, love won.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Gar­cia, who is gay, hoisted a pride f lag in front of the city’s Civic Plaza.

“Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing my­self and my long­time part­ner, will fi­nally be treated equally un­der the law,” Gar­cia said.

Not all of Cal­i­for­nia wel­comed the court’s de­ci­sion.

At the Es­con­dido- based Na­tional Cen­ter for Law and Pol­icy, at­tor­ney Dean Broyles de­nounced the rul­ing.

“We are no longer a re­pub­lic gov­erned by law,” he said. “We are now in­creas­ingly ruled by the tran­sient feel­ings of our sex­ual ap­petites. We have fool­ishly bowed and wor­shipped at the pa­gan idol of sex­ual lib­erty.”

Such sen­ti­ments, as well as mem­o­ries of Cal­i­for­nia’s 2008 same- sex mar­riage ban, had left many in the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity feel­ing in­se­cure about the ul­ti­mate le­gal sta­tus of such unions.

“We never knew whether it would be taken from us,” said Lorri Jean, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Los An­ge­les LGBT Cen­ter. “If the de­ci­sion went the other way to­day, we would be vul­ner­a­ble to hav­ing our rights be­ing taken away from us. We can now go to any state and we don’t have to leave our rights be­hind at the bor­der.”

Jean and her wife mar­ried dur­ing a brief win­dow in 2008, be­fore Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers passed Propo­si­tion 8, which banned same- sex mar­riages un­til it was over­turned in 2013. Jean said she now be­lieves Prop. 8 helped to gal­va­nize the re­solve of same- sex mar­riage sup­port- ers, gay and straight, across the na­tion.

“Peo­ple were out­raged and shocked,” she said, mo­ti­vat­ing them to f ight for mar­riage equal­ity. “Be­fore, they had been com­pla­cent ... Peo­ple al­ways say, as Cal­i­for­nia goes, so goes the na­tion. Once you have mar­riage in such an im­por­tant state as Cal­i­for­nia, we knew it would help the domi­noes fall.”

On Fri­day morn­ing, Jean and her wife read the text of the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion online to­gether.

“Most of my adult life, I never thought I’d see this day,” Jean said.

Some said they thought the rul­ing would spark more same- sex mar­riages in Cal­i­for­nia even though such unions were al­ready le­gal in the state.

Natalie Novoa, 38, awoke Fri­day to the buzzing of her cell­phone. It was a texted alert about the de­ci­sion. She looked at her girl­friend of 11 years, Ed­die Daniels, and said, “Hey, you want to get mar­ried to­day?”

The cou­ple rushed to the Bev­erly Hills Court­house, but when they ar­rived, the clerk said the wed­ding ap­point­ments were com­pletely booked. When they per­sisted, the clerk told them to try their luck on the sec­ond f loor.

There, they found a small group of straight cou­ples wait­ing to get mar­ried, and a deputy com­mis­sioner will­ing to squeeze them in for a quick cer­e­mony and a selfie shot of them kiss­ing in front of a faux white cake.

“When things are meant to be, they hap­pen re­ally quickly,” Novoa said. “It was per­fect. Here I am with the love of my life, get­ting mar­ried on this beau­ti­ful, his­toric day in this history of the United States. It’s pretty sur­real.”

Rick Loomis Los An­ge­les Times

YAEL DEYNES, right, cries on the shoul­der of his hus­band, Todd Stevens, af­ter a rally in Long Beach cel­e­brat­ing the U. S. Supreme Court rul­ing lif ting same- sex mar­riage bans. “Af­ter so many years of strug­gle, I feel val­i­dated,” Deynes said. “I feel com­plete.”

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

DE­MON­STRA­TORS, many hold­ings signs declar­ing “Love wins,” cheer the rul­ing dur­ing a gath­er­ing at West Hol­ly­wood Park on Fri­day.

Pho­tog r aphs by Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times


em­brace dur­ing a West Hol­ly­wood rally cel­e­brat­ing the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion Fri­day. The 5- 4 rul­ing de­clared mar­riage a con­sti­tu­tional right.

AT­TEN­DEES at the West Hol­ly­wood rally pause dur­ing their cel­e­bra­tion to ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence honor­ing nine peo­ple shot and killed last week in an at­tack at a his­tor­i­cally black church in Charleston, S. C.

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