Celebrations are in the works up and down the coast of California, and there should be a spike in marriages as a number of gay couples rush to the alter now that the California Supreme Court has struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In a 4-3 decision, the justices rule that people have a fundamental right to marry the person of their choice and that gender restrictions violate the state Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.
For Los Angeles residents LaTanya and Karen, who have been domestic partners for the past two years, the ruling will give them the benefits of heterosexual married couples.
“Now I can be seen as my other fellow co-workers and family members as being legitimate,” Karen said. “It means a lot to us to be able to go into a real marriage and it not be viewed as a joke.”
LaTanya points out that without being married, if she fell ill and was unable to make decisions for herself, her family could lock LaTanya out of any decisions that would have to be made.
“That happened to a couple of friends of mine when one of them got sick,” LaTanya said. “When one of them passed away the family members stopped them from coming to the hospital.”
“You hope nothing ever happens to you but if it does you want your mate, you want your partner to be there,” Karen said. “This gives us the opportunity to do that. I want to be able to legally share what I have with her. Marriage is the only way that we can do that.”
LaTanya did not waste anytime fulfilling her dreams. Like many others, she purchased a ring that very day and proposed to Karen.
“I left and went over to Tiffany at the Century City Mall,” LaTanya said. “When I came back she thought I had earrings for her. As I opened up the box I stood close to her and I go down and proposed to her.”
“It was really exciting,” Karen said.
Many opposed to gay marriage worry about the effects it will have on children. But Karen does not see that as an issue. She has two children, daughters who are 26 and 18, who were young when she started having relationships with women, and she said that neither of them is gay.
Gay couples have been fighting for equal rights for years. This is a major victory, but if gay marriage opponents have their way, it would be a short-lived victory.
A coalition of religious and conservative activists have submitted 1.1 million signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment for the November ballot that would say that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
“As long as I pay taxes like everybody else, I want the same rights that everyone else has,” said Jasmyne Cannick, writer for the Sentinel. “What I do in my bedroom does not affect you.”