Plaintiffs In Prop 8 Case Finally Marry After Years Of Fighting For Their Rights

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Marriage equality is now officially the law in the state of California.

On Friday afternoon, just two days after the Supreme Court declined to rule on Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay on same-sex marriage, allowing for marriage licenses to be issued immediately. As the state prepares for the expected rush for marriage licenses, the four plaintiffs in the case, couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and couple Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, were married within ninety minutes of each other.

Perry and Stier were married in a ceremony at San Francisco City Hall by California State Attorney General Kamala Harris. Their son acted as ring bearer, and they were soon after declared “spouse and spouse.” During the ceremony, Harris remarked:

“By joining the case against Proposition 8, they represented thousands of couples like themselves in their fight for marriage equality. Through the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs, they came out victorious.”

Just ninety minutes later, Katami and Zarrillo were married at Los Angeles City Hall by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as one of the last acts of his last day in office. Villaraigosa wore his sentiments on his sleeve as he presided over the marriage:

“I’ve done a few of these over the last couple years, but never have I been prouder. Never have I been more joyful than I am today. This is a special moment.”

With the joyous news also came the incessant complaints from the religious groups that oppose the unions. The group that sponsored Prop 8, the Protect Marriage Coalition’s Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund, issued a statement on Friday insisting that same-sex marriage supporters, including the courts, aren’t playing fair. From Anthony Pugno, the attorney for the group:

“This outrageous act tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption.

“Homosexual marriage is not happening because the people changed their mind. It isn’t happening because the appellate courts declared a new constitutional right. It’s happening because enemies of the people have abused their power to manipulate the system and render the people voiceless.

“The resumption of same-sex marriage this day has been obtained by illegitimate means. If our opponents rejoice in achieving their goal in a dishonorable fashion, they should be ashamed.

“It remains to be seen whether the fight can go on, but either way, it is a disgraceful day for California.”

It’s likely that outrage and anger over marriage equality will stick around for decades after its eventual legalization, which is no doubt coming, I predict, by the end of the decade. With the majority of Americans now in favor of marriage equality, it is not anymore a matter of the court telling us it’s the right thing to do; it’s us telling the court it’s the right thing. But even with interracial marriage, which was declared legal under the Constitution by the Supreme Court forty-six years ago, states were slow to react, more than anything, out of a continuing prejudice. Despite its complete inability to enforce it, a law banning interracial marriage stayed on the books in Alabama until 2000, when it finally became the last state to officially accept “mixed marriages.” Even so, 40% voted against revoking the ban, proving that old prejudices die hard.

These detractors shouldn’t be allowed to stop the momentum behind the movement for marriage equality. Just as my own children look at me with bewildered stares when I tell them that once upon a time interracial marriage was illegal, their children will look at them incredulously when they tell them about a time when the right to same-sex marriage had to be won as well.