Robin Tyler and Diane Olson seem drawn to the Beverly Hills Courthouse, having filed the first lawsuit challenging California's marriage laws shortly after being denied a marriage license there on Feb. 12, 2004. That lawsuit was folded into the historic case that went before the California Supreme Court and resulted in a ruling for marriage equality last May 15.
To make a point about the separation of church and state, the couple went back to the courthouse on June 16, got a legal license, then came outside to a thick wall of reporters and cameras who recorded every jubilant smile as they held a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony on the courthouse steps.
They returned to the courthouse again on Friday the 13th - Freedom to Marry Day - to renew their vows and to urge the California Supreme Court justices to invalidate Prop 8, the constitutional amendment passed by a slim majority last November that stripped marriage equality from the California Constitution.
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Once again the media were out in force. Ever the producer, Tyler spent several minutes before the ceremony shifting around favored photographers and broadcast outlets - and even held the service until getting a signal from the local Fox Channel 11reporter that they were going "live."
But once the ceremony began, the meaning of marriage took over.
Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami conducted the traditional Jewish service. A longtime leader in the movement for social justice, Eger laced her comments and prayers with pleas for the justices to do the right thing and invalidate Prop 8, which she called "bigotry at the ballot box." The "tyranny" of the majority, she said, "subverts our democracy."
Though they'd been married before, the couple were clearly still into each other as they renewed their vows.
After wiping away tears, Robin turned to Diane and said:
"I love you. I've loved you for 16 years since we've been together. Marrying you was the greatest day of my life and I will never forget that day. We must remember the nights of our love and the days of fighting for our freedom."
Tyler went on to say that their marriage "is no longer about us" but about other loving couples who can't get married - a circumstance that "made loving you even more meaningful." She prayed that the justices would "open the door to the rest of our community so justice is served."
After the exchange of rings, the lifting of the cup, Rabbi Eger offered a La Chaim toast to "life and love and civil marriage" - and in solidarity with those who have yet to drink from the cup - and to the freedom to marry.
After the congratulations, Tyler offered some further thoughts:
"This is not about our marriage anymore - or about marriage equality...This is not about us anymore. If the Supreme Court lets us stay married it will be a hollow victory because we do not want to be the only ones on the freedom train. The Supreme Court needs to rule to overturn Prop 8 because what Prop 8 does - for the first time in American history - is take a group that is being considered equal by the Supreme Court out of the constitution. That is dangerous because that means that 51% or 52% of people can vote to take YOU out of the constitution. Labor out the constitution - unions out of the constitution. It guts the Constitution of California.
So what started out as a fight for all these years of loving couples all of a sudden exploded into one of the biggest civil rights cases in American history because now we're standing to defend our constitution. And we want you all to stand with us."
Tyler then introduced attorney Gloria Allred who presented the couple with a large red Valentine's Day present - inside of which was a copy of their current lawsuit. Allred explained that the court should invalidate Prop 8 because the process by which the constitution can be amended demands greater scrutiny than simply a slim majority of the popular vote.
Tyler also made much of the young new activists - Matt Palazzolo, Sara Pollaro and Christopher Smith - from the Equal Roots Coalition who helped hold the Huppah during the ceremony. She said the marriage equality fight - and the effort to take back the constitution - are also fights for the next generation. After the ceremony, Palazzolo was interviewed by a producer and crew from PBS.
Before cutting a special wedding cake adorned with pictures of the California Supreme Court justices, Allred also introduced her new clients - Kathy Refaely (originally from Israel) and Cheri Schroeder, a mother of two children. After enjoying some cake, the couple and Allred went before the Beverly Hills clerk to ask for a marriage license. They were denied.
Robin Tyler, Gloria Allred and Diane Olson
Robin Tyler and Rev Troy Perry
Robin Tyler and Equality California's Cary Davidson
Robin Tyler and Equal Roots youth
Robin Tyler and Diane Olson feed cake to Gloria Allred
Kathy Refaely & Cheri Schroeder eating cake before trying to get a license
Wedding cake with pictures of California Supreme Court Justices
Author Lillian Faderman and her partner since 1971, Phyllis Irwin
Rabbi Denise Eger and the Rev. Troy Perry