As more than 100 marriage equality supporters filed into the center’s Rainbow Room, they were handed American flags and signs that read “Separate is Unequal” on one side, and “Marriage is a Basic Civil Right” on the other.
Like the Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia cases, from which the quotes were taken respectively, the ruling against Proposition 8 is a landmark victory for those who have been fighting for marriage equality in California over the past few years.
“Happy early Valentine’s Day!” greeted rally host and interfaith minister Kelly Rivera Hart.
The San Francisco Gay/Lesbian Freedom Band got the show started with an energetic rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
From there it became a chance for activists, couples, performers, and other supporters of marriage equality to rejoice with their comrades, while also remembering the hurdles cleared and the ones still to come.
One of the couples to take the stage and speak was Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, who had been able to get married in 2008 have been working to make sure all couples get that opportunity.
“This decision is pure poetry,” Gaffney began, before being interrupted by Lewis, who couldn’t help pointing out that this was truly a gay-marriage decision, because it referenced a Marilyn Monroe film.
“This decision is pure poetry, as is my husband,” Gaffney began again, going on to describe how his parents, an interracial couple, went through similar struggles to get their marriage recognized in 1948.
After the rally, Lewis discussed his feelings on the ruling, and why he and Gaffney continue to fight for equal rights.
“My husband Stuart and I have been together for 25 years, and we are one of the lucky ones, because we were able to get married in 2008 before Proposition 8,” he said. “So we are standing with all the couples who want to be able to get married, and we hope there will be no more appeals of this case. We hope this is the final word.”
Those waiting to get married vowed not to settle for civil union, and those who got the opportunity to marry prior to Proposition 8 are just as passionate about their rights.
“You will have to pry this ring from my cold, dead hands!” drag nun Sister Mary Peter firmly told the crowd.
Though it was a night of celebration, marriage equality advocates are aware that there is still a chance that the opposition will appeal, either to the full Ninth Circuit panel, or to the Supreme Court.
“Sometimes on Christmas, you’re asking for a bicycle, you see a box that looks like there might be a bicycle in it, and instead it’s a sweater,” said Hart after the rally. “We didn’t get a sweater this time! We got what we wanted. We didn’t get it as far as we need, but we’re closer. I, personally, would like to see couples get married now. We should be done with this, but we still have more struggle. It never happens overnight.”