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Dozens rally in Valencia to celebrate court decisions on gay marriage

Posted: June 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.

From left, John Anderson, Kelsey Menges and Juan Castanada carry placards and a rainbow flag while joining a group of some 60 same-sex marriage supporters who gathered at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway in Valencia to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling on Wednesday. Photo by Dan Watson.

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About 60 Santa Clarita Valley residents rallied Wednesday in Valencia to celebrate a pair of Supreme Court decisions that paved the way for gay marriages to resume in California and also granted previously denied federal rights to gay couples.

“It’s not just a victory for the gay and lesbian community; it’s a victory for everyone,” said David McEachern, president of the Santa Clarita Valley chapter of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays group.

Attendees at the rally held up signs reading, “I do support the freedom to marry,” and, “Marriage equality equals family equality,” and waved American flags and banners depicting the colors of the rainbow, a common symbol of the gay rights movement.

“Well the U.S. is covered in rainbows today, that’s for sure,” said Valencia resident Malcolm Blue, who attended the rally on the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway.

Proposition 8
The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that supporters of California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 voter-approved measure that banned gay marriage in the state, had no standing to sue before the court on the measure, which has already been ruled unconstitutional by lower courts. Part of the reason Proposition 8 proponents were turned away by the court is that California state officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, declined to defend the measure.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” justices wrote in the majority opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

Harris called Wednesday a “great day.”

“Today is a day that reaffirms our commitment as a country to giving every person equal protection and due process under the law,” she said during a Wednesday news conference.

But Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said he was disappointed by the court’s ruling. Marriage between one man and one woman is a “sacred, God-given institution.”

“I believe these issues should be decided democratically by the people, not through judicial decisions,” McKeon said. “It was my hope that the decisions made by the people in states, like California with Proposition 8, to define marriage as between one man and one woman would be respected by the court.”

Joe Messina, the chairman of the Republican Central Committee for the 38th Assembly District, said he thinks the ruling on Proposition 8 will still allow states to make their own decisions on gay marriage.

He also said he thought some of the rhetoric from some gay rights advocates on the topic was disingenuous, noting that California’s system of domestic partnerships allows same-sex couples access to many of the same legal rights as marriage.

“If the argument is, ‘We just want the same rights you have,’ they already have them,” Messina said.

Defense of Marriage Act

The Supreme Court also ruled that some provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred gay couples from receiving some benefits afforded to straight couples, are unconstitutional.

Wednesday’s court decision is the latest in a string of victories for the gay marriage movement. Several years ago, polls showed that most Americans were opposed to gay marriage. Polling in recent months, however, shows most are now in favor.

President Barack Obama formally announced his full support for gay marriage last year after previously being opposed to it. Vice President Joe Biden, who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act while a member of the Senate, also has said he now supports gay marriage.

“It’s just a matter of time before the rest of the nation slowly, state by state, throws off these petty prejudices and restrictions to their gay and lesbian citizens,” McEachern said.

Blue said he thinks the issue is about more than just the definition of marriage.

“It’s about love,” he said. “Why does anybody want to legislate love? We should be celebrating love, we should be encouraging love.”

Newhall resident Jose Burger, who left work early to attend Wednesday’s rally, called Wednesday’s court decision a victory for gay rights.

Though he has been with his partner for 18 years, Burger said he did not know if they will rush to get married.
“It’s a reason to rent two tuxedos,” he said with a laugh.

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