|Demonstrators for marriage equality filled the Castro and the Civic Center on the day or arguments before the Californai Supreme Court. Photo by Rink.
Just one year ago this week, The California Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking decision making same-sex marriage legal in the state. There was no end to joy in the LGBT community and among our friends as the magnitude of the Court‚Äôs announcement sunk in. It was a glorious day in California history.
Everyone not living under a rock knows what came next: after a pathetic campaign on our side that handed the anti-marriage folks a victory, the voters of California passed Proposition 8 by a narrow margin, which banned same-sex marriage in California. The next day our community‚Äôs legal eagles intervened, filing suit before the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. This past March the Court heard arguments on the suit, which at the time legal observers felt went very poorly for our side. But in light of recent events in other states allowing same-sex marriage, which have unfolded so rapidly it‚Äôs hard to keep up, optimism has returned that the California Supremes may overturn 8.
The Court has three months to issue a ruling after arguments, so it can happen any day now, and it must happen by June 3. They announce their decisions on Mondays and Thursdays. If the decision is to be released on a Monday, the court will notify the public the previous Friday at 10 am. If it is going to be on a Thursday, we will learn of the announcement by the previous Wednesday at 10 am. (You can go to courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme#forthcoming to get this up-to-date info).
Statewide actions are planned for the ‚ÄúDay of Decision,‚ÄĚ regardless of the outcome.
In San Francisco, activists will gather at 5 pm at City Hall (Polk and McAllister) for a rally and then march from 6-6:45 p.m. to the MLK Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens. For more information, check out MarriageEquality.org. The Marriage Equality folks like to remind us: with every day, every conversation, every march, every win, and even with every loss ‚Äď we are closer to winning this fight.
‚ÄúWin or lose, the LGBT community and our allies must respond immediately to the forthcoming California Supreme Court decision on whether to invalidate Proposition 8,‚ÄĚ says veteran activist Robin Tyler, who, with her wife, Diane Olson, were the first plaintiffs in the original landmark lawsuit to win marriage for same-sex couples in California. Tyler & Olson are also petitioners in the current legal challenge against Prop 8. Tyler and her co-organizer Andy Thayer have called for ‚ÄúDay of Decision‚ÄĚ actions the night the court releases its decision. Both have been involved in organizing hundreds of local protests across the country, and Tyler has worked on organizing all four queer marches on Washington.
National groups including Join the Impact, Centerlink, (the National Association of LGBT community centers), Metropolitan Community Churches, and others have signed on to help organize across the nation. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve seen a tremendous outpouring from LGBT and allied individuals and organizations who wanted to join together in unity the night of the decision regardless of the outcome,‚ÄĚ said Tyler.
The evening of the ruling, DayofDecision.org actions across the country to either protest a decision that upholds Prop 8 or that celebrates the invalidation of Prop 8 will take place. ‚ÄúWe will not onsider it a victory if Prop 8 is upheld while existing marriages are allowed to stand,‚ÄĚ said Tyler, whose marriage to Olson would be upheld in such a case. ‚ÄúAs a community, we can only advance as one. Offering special treatment for some community members while taking rights away from the rest is completely unacceptable.‚ÄĚ
DayOfDecision.com activists are encouraging groups to organize ‚ÄúDay of Decision‚ÄĚ actions that will either celebrate the decision, or if the court rules against us, make sure that our angry voices are heard around the nation. Anger at denying an entire group of people our civil rights is perfectly legitimate and appropriate, says the website. Organizing now will send the message that we will no longer accept discrimination against us. If discrimination is written back into the California Constitution, we must go back to the streets. ‚ÄúDuring their campaign, the Yes-on-8 people hit us with a sledgehammer, and our side hit back with a slingshot,‚ÄĚ said Tyler. ‚ÄúThe time for candlelight vigils is over.‚ÄĚ
Also, on the first Saturday after the Prop 8 verdicts, there will be a ‚ÄúMeet in the Middle for Equality‚ÄĚ action held at 1 pm in Fresno at their City Hall. Why Fresno? The anti-Prop 8 campaign ignored the Central Valley, but grassroots activists argue that the battle for equality has to be fought in towns like Fresno - not only in gay-friendly cities. Califrnia‚Äôs Central Valley population is reflective of national attitudes towards LGBT Equality. ‚ÄúUntil we engage the communities of ‚Äėmiddle-America,‚Äô say organizers, ‚Äúwe will not gain the full equality we deserve.‚Äú
Get ready to rock ‚Äėn roll. Any day now, we‚Äôll know what‚Äôs next: full equality in California, or another fight at the ballot box. We know we‚Äôre not going to stop until we get full equality, whatever it takes. That much is for sure.