Gavin Newsom speaks at the event this morning. Photo by Matt Crawford.
The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California after striking down Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act today.
The ruling found that Proposition 8 supporters had no standing to appeal a trial court ruling that struck down the statewide ban. The decision reinstates a 2010 ruling in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the ban on same-sex marriage violated federal constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process.
Hundreds of people filled the rotunda at San Francisco’s City Hall for the ruling this morning—an appropriate venue considering hundreds of weddings happen there each year. After the announcement, Mayor Ed Lee and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom led Phyllis Lyon, who married her lesbian partner when it was briefly legal in San Francisco in 2008, down the rotunda steps followed by former mayor Willie Brown, members of the Board of Supervisors, the police and fire chief and several other local political figures.
“It’s been a long road and many years, but gosh it feels good to have love triumph over ignorance,” Mayor Lee told the crowd before introducing Newsom to the loudest applause of the morning.
Newsom, who championed marriage equality and ignited the current national debate while he served as mayor of San Francisco, used the ailing Nelson Mandela as an example and stressed the importance of politicians being moral leaders and fighting for equal rights.
The most colorful comments of the morning arrived from Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“Fuck you, Prop. 8,” she said before noting that she checked to see if there were any children in attendance. “I will put a dollar into the bad word jar and it will be worth it to be able to say that.”
She credited Prop. 8 opponents for helping to push the debate in favor of marriage equality.
“When Prop. 8 passed, you stepped up and galvanized in a way that made today possible,” Kendell said.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera noted in his remarks that many people where critical of the city and Newsom’s administration for moving too fast and pushing too hard when they first issued same sex marriages in San Francisco.
“You have to kick the door in” and do what’s right and what’s moral, he said.
“It’s about more than a legal case; it’s about changing the hearts and minds of people,” Herrera said.
Kendell echo that message for the LGBT community in 37 states still without marriage equality and said the national fight for same sex marriages must continue: “Leave no one behind”
With the ruling, Proposition 8 supporters will have 25 days in which they could ask the court for a rehearing, plus several more days for a federal appeals court to issue a mandate dismissing the appeal. If that is the case, same-sex marriages could resume and be recognized in California sometime next month.
In another decision on Wednesday, the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, invalidating part of a law denying gay marriage partners the same federal benefits heterosexual couples enjoy.
Keith Mizuguchi contributed to this report.