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West Hollywood celebrates end of Proposition 8

By July 03, 2013

West Hollywood's Mike Gerle is glad that Proposition 8 is history. Photo by Dave RhodesNot long after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs who sued to have Proposition 8 reinstated had no standing, enabling same sex marriages to resume in California, marriages resumed and on the evening of March 26 a celebration of the demise of Proposition 8 was held in West Hollywood, CA.

Many watched the announcements on the morning of Wednesday, June 26 with anticipation. First came the announcement that part of DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) had been overturned. It did not knock all of DOMA out, but it did establish the equality of GLBT citizens.

Those in California were anxious about the second game of the doubleheader, the ruling on Proposition 8. The announcement was made and the celebration was on. Both California plaintiffs who sued to have Proposition 8 overturned were seen on television as were their attorneys, David Boies and Ted Oleson. The Plaintiff in the DOMA case was seen as well. She traveled to New York for a DOMA overturned celebration there.

Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy StierA victory celebration was planned in the City of West Hollywood, CA, organized by AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) for Wednesday at 5:30 PM which was about a half hour late, probably due to the flight arrival time of the victorious players in the Proposition 8 case at LAX. Some of us who saw these people on television only seven hours before on the steps of the Unites States Supreme Court in Washington, DC were now seeing them live, in person.

Approximately 3,000 people packed the area just south of Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente Blvd to hear from the victors. Early on, West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land, who was not scheduled to be at the celebration, welcomed everyone to rousing cheers. She was followed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who addressed the crowd in English followed by the same speech in Spanish. The crowd cheered the speech en Espanol as loudly as they did the English version.

Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Villaraigosa speaks in English and SpanishSpeakers AFER co-founder Chad Griffin who is the President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Executive Director of AFER Adam Umhoefer, male couple Plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, the female couple Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, followed by Lead Co-Counsel David Boies and Ted Oleson. Several other dignitaries spoke and all were cheered loudly as signs appeared throughout the crowd. A gallery with many of the signs and the people who were there will be posted soon.

When they spoke, attorneys Boies and Oleson humored how the other was the best barrister the one had seen. They mentioned how, after depositions that some of the Proposition 8 proponents just faded away, not to be seen; and that the one left helped make the case to defend same sex marriage. Oleson and Boies were opponents in the Bush v. Gore case in 2000.

Plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff ZarrilloAlthough The Leather Journal did not notice anyone dressed in Leather, many from the Leather/BDSM/Fetish community were there including International Mr. Leather 2007 Mikal Gerle who works for the City of West Hollywood. Gerle posted a statement from the City of West Hollywood promoting the victory celebration.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  It is the first case involving the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry ever to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court.

Adam UmhoeferIn August 2010, the District Court held, “Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

“The Perry case changed the conversation. It altered the game,” said Plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo. “It created a groundswell of momentum and passion that brought us here to the Supreme Court today.  Today, the Court said that I am more equal, that we are more equal, our love is just like our parents and grandparents and that any children we may have in the future will be more secure.  I look forward to growing old with the man I love.  Today is a great day to be an American.”
 
“Today, we are closer to marriage equality for all,” said Plaintiff Paul Katami in Washington, DC.  “We are lucky, but we know that this fight continues across the country.  We cannot forget our LGBT brothers and sisters that are in states that still discriminate against them, and we will not allow it.  We will continue the fight until all of us our equal.  We stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before us.  People that risked their lives to stand up and be who they are.  

They gave us the legs to stand up on today.  They gave us the momentum to run with and the voice to speak loudly and say proudly: we are gay, we are American, and we will not be treated like second-class citizens.”

Boies OlesonSee the Gallery on WeHo Celebrates Demise of Prop 8 in the Gallery bar at the top of the page.

The Supreme Court decision on March 26 in United States v. Windsor, concluding that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.  

In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that DOMA “demeans” gay and lesbian couples and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by [those] couples.”
 
Enacted by Congress in 1996, Section 3 of DOMA nullified the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.  With the end of the Section 3 of DOMA, the federal government will no longer be permitted to exclude legally married gay and lesbian couples from the federal rights, benefits, and burdens that govern all other married couples.  
 
The Windsor case was brought on behalf of Edith (“Edie”) Windsor by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Read the United States Supreme Court deciscion here.

Read the Federal District Court decision here.

Chad GriffinThe American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  After bringing together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. The Perry case is the first involving the fundamental right of gay and lesbian couples to marry ever to be fully briefed and argued before the Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.
www.afer.org

As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC's vision a reality.

Founded in 1980, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.