Monday, June 16, 2008

I Do ...

From San Francisco to Los Angeles, lesbian and gay couples lined up to become among the first in the state to legally say "I do!" At 5:01 pm Pacific Time, the California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage became law.

I think it is so cool that the first couple to be legally married in San Francisco was Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons. These two champions in our fight for civil rights have been together for more than 50 years.

Del and Phyllis helped form Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization in the United States. I've had the honor to meet the two wonderful women, and to hear them share their stories.

Down the coast in Beverly Hills, long-time friend Robin Tyler and her partner Diane Olson also tied the knot. Robin and Diane were one of the couples to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage that led to the decision.

...saying their vows on the steps of the city’s courthouse. Ms. Tyler cried throughout the ceremony, held by Ms. Olson, and solemnized by a rabbi, Denise Eger.

“Great floods cannot dampen your love,” Rabbi Eger said. “Your courage brought you here today”
These couples still face an uphill battle. Voters will have an opportunity in November to vote on whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal.

Same-sex marriage has been hotly contested nationwide and state by state in the courts and at the ballot box, and California is no exception. Voters here will decide whether to approve a ballot measure in November that would effectively overturn the court’s decision by defining marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

Forty-four states already have some sort of legal barrier — either a law or constitutional amendment — barring such unions. In 2004 alone, 13 states passed ballot measures banning same-sex marriage.
Basic civil rights should never be held hostage to a majority vote. Our Constitution was designed to protect the rights of people who hold a minority point of view. Unfortunately, in far too many states bigotry has trumped what should be understood as a fundamental right.