A slight majority of California’s Supreme Court justices, 4 to 3, ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marriage last month.
Though same-sex couples may cherish their nuptials sometime soon, other Californians have worked to stop them with a ballot initiative in November.
“We were disappointed that the court ruled against the wishes of the people of California, but not surprised,” Everett Rice said.
Rice, legislative coordinator for the California Family Council, an organization that opposes same-sex marriage, said the decision was biased.
“The decision is based on their own personal view,” Rice said. “It’s judicial activism.”
“Because of that and to ensure our traditional understanding of marriage remains, we felt it better to amend the State Constitution,” Rice said.
“The U.S. Supreme Court says each state reserves the right to define marriage,” Rice said. “Our focus is now on the California Marriage Protection Act.”
The majority decision voids Proposition 22, a ballot measure approved by 61 percent of voters in 2000 that prohibited same-sex matrimony.
Proposition 22 indicates “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California,” but this is no longer the case.
“We are the plaintiff in the lawsuit and we were thrilled,” said Geoff Kros, executive director of Equality California, about the 4-3 decision.
“It was such a wonderful feeling to be acknowledged by the court and recognized for the first time being truly equal,” Kros said.
Kros said he was at the courthouse when a majority of the Supreme Court’s justices ruled in favor of voiding Proposition 22 on May 15.
Chief Justice Ronald George wrote the majority opinion supported by Justices Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno.
Dissenting Justices were Carol Corrigan, Marvin Baxter and Ming Chin.
Rice said consistent efforts have been made to undermine the original vote since the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000.
His organization, which represents a coalition of religious and conservative groups, collected more than one million signatures to put a measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.
If approved by voters, the ballot measure would amend California’s Constitution to define marriage as a union “between a man and a woman.”
In 2004, same-sex couples challenged Proposition 22 by participating in a month-long flurry of same-sex weddings in San Francisco.
The California Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the city to stop issuing licenses to couples. Those licenses were later invalidated.
Last month’s decision by the same court allows the couples a second chance to marry.
On June 17, the office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
To accommodate an anticipated increase in volume, the department will hold a marriage event on Saturday, June 21, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at 12400 Imperial Highway in Norwalk, its Web site shows.
Paul Drugan said his department will have 12 deputy civil commissioners on hand to perform marriages for those who come in and apply for marriage licenses.
The event is similar to the one held each Valentine’s Day.
Sale of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a great victory in a long battle and a reason to celebrate, said Eric Koller, CSUN student and incoming vice president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance (LGBTA).
“I was really surprised (when the Supreme Court upheld same sex marriage), considering there are six conservative judges and the writer of the ruling was also a conservative,” Koller said.
“I was pretty happy,” Koller said. “A whole bunch of people went to West Hollywood to celebrate.”
A representative from the Los Angeles office of the Gay ‘ Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said several couples plan to get licenses on June 17.
Some will also be married the same day, the GLAAD representative said.
Juan Bustamante, press aid in Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, said the mayor is starting to take requests from people who want him to perform their ceremonies.
Bustamante said the mayor would do as many as he can – if time permits – but there are no plans for a group arrangement.
“The mayor hopes to be officially deputized by the state to perform marriages on an ongoing basis,” Bustamante said. “But the county will allow him to perform marriages in a temporary capacity for two weeks.”
Though Koller welcomes the court’s majority decision, he said he plans to raise awareness during the Fall 2008 semester about the ban initiative.
“I am going to form a committee to get people on campus aware of the situation, get them registered and to vote our way at the polls,” Koller said.
“I hear mixed things about the initiative,” Koller said. “Some of my friends are really worried. I do not believe it will pass in November.”
“Conservatives say the Supreme Court doesn’t speak for the people, but I believe the court made the right decision,” Kollar said.