Gay marriage fight isn't over in California, activists vow
Legal challenges ensue in federal court, and plans are afoot for a 2010 ballot measure to undo Proposition 8.
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On Saturday, gay rights activists plan to march through the central California city in the unofficial start of their campaign to take their message to parts of the state that favored the gay-marriage ban.Skip to next paragraph
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Chiefly, gay rights leaders now recognize they need to reach out to religious leaders to help make their case, she says. "For any civil rights journey, you have to have deep spiritual roots to reach out to people to share your common humanity … especially on a topic where people think they know all that there is to know," she says, adding that there are "leaders of faith who support marriage equality."
"The ruling really gives us our marching orders," says Mr. Gaffney, whose marriage to Mr. Lewis was one of the 18,000 validated in Tuesday's ruling. "This decision just reinforces for us that equality is an unfinished business in California. And that divides Californians into marriage haves and have-nots," he says.
Marriage: just a word?
Last year, California's Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages and afforded married gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. While this week's decision may seem like a reversal to many, according to the court, Prop. 8 only applies to the term "marriage" and does not take away any of the legal rights associated with marriage.
"Certainly, this is a court that struggled mightily. This is a court that attempted to walk a line … in satisfying the will of the majority," says Ms. Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Although the court said gay couples were losing only the nomenclature of marriage, Kendell and other gay rights activists say the term "marriage" has a symbolic meaning that goes beyond words. "I'd like to walk down the street and ask 10 heterosexual couples if they would cease referring to themselves as married, or cease referring to themselves as spouse, or husband, or wife to their families, their friends, and the world," she says."Marriage is the common vernacular to understanding what two people mean to each other."
That may not convince Prop. 8 supporters such as Pepperdine University law Prof. Doug Kmiec. He says marriage is a religious tradition, and most churches do not believe that same-sex couples should be wed. The principal reason he supported Prop. 8, he says, was to return the institution of marriage to the church and not make it a matter of public policy.
Religious gay couples disagree."It's more of an equality issue than a religious issue or civil rights issue," said Tommy Woelfel, who was married last summer after the court legalized same-sex marriages, at a Los Angeles rally Tuesday. "I am Christian and believe in the sanctity of marriage, and rights that are given to a heterosexual couple should also be given to a loving, committed, homosexual couple." [Editor's note: The original version misattributed this quote.]