|Frank Capley and Joe Alfano, lovers of 8 years, at the San Francisco City Hall marriage equality protest on Valentine’s day.
Another Valentine’s Day, Another Day of Denying Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples
With the historic marriage equality lawsuit set to be heard in San Francisco on March 4, a ruling expected within 90 days, and this year marking the 60th anniversary of this Court’s decision eliminating the ban on interracial marriage, this year’s annual marriage counter event, hosted by Marriage Equality USA, held the promise of history repeating itself. There was hope that this year’s event was the last time it will be necessary in California. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, at local marriage counters in over 20 cities all over the state, same-sex couples requested marriage licenses at their local County Clerk’s Offices to raise awareness of the harms and impact the inability to marry causes on their families.
There were four Bay Area marriage counter actions. One was held in San Francisco at the County Clerk Office of City Hall, headed by local MEUSA leaders Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, a gay couple that is named as one of many plaintiffs in the California same-sex marriage suit.
Another was held in San Mateo County in the County Clerk’s Office in Redwood City, where Ramona Gatto and Marina Gatto - the other half of a bi-national lesbian couple and their daughter - headed the peaceful demonstration.
In Alameda County in the County Clerk’s Office in Oakland, Moe Perez and Ryan James of MEUSA led the action.
In Contra Costa County in the County Clerk’s Office of Martinez, MEUSA’s Pamela Brown and Shauna Rajkowski led.
In addition to holding statewide marriage counter actions, MEUSA has initiated a daily online series – “Friends of the Court” - that highlights the 30 amicus briefs filed in favor of the freedom to marry, and serves as a countdown to the March 4th California Supreme Court hearing date.
“It was exactly 60 years ago, in 1948, that the California Supreme Court declared that the right to marry the person you love is a ‘fundamental right of citizenship,’ and struck down the state law banning couples of different races from civil marriage in the Perez v. Sharp decision,” said Molly McKay, Marriage Equality USA media director. “This year, the California Supreme Court will once again consider this issue for same-sex couples, and we hope they will again uphold the California tradition of fairness and equality by ending marriage discrimination once and for all.”
“It is an affront to our basic dignity as fellow human beings when same-sex couples are turned away from the marriage counter,” said Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA policy director. “The separate and unequal institution of domestic partnership is not equality under the law.” She added, “Different treatment in law has historically perpetuated social perceptions of difference.” Government policies that mark one group as different and less worthy of marriage give tacit approval to other forms of public and private discrimination, she pointed out. Brown noted that California is home to the largest population of same-sex couples. “We have always been a leader in advancing civil rights, and the time has come for California again to make history and join Massachusetts in ending its exclusionary laws banning same-sex couples from civil marriage.”
Starting on Valentine’s Day and running through March 4th, Marriage Equality USA will be presenting stories on each of the 30 amicus briefs filed in support of the historic marriage lawsuit pending before the California Supreme Court. These stories that illustrate the growing and diverse support for the freedom to marry will be archived on Marriage Equality USA’s website, marriageequality.org.
Founded in 2000, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation.