Karen Ocamb

Robin and Diane Get Married for You

Filed By Karen Ocamb | February 14, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Freedom to Marry, gay marriage, Gloria Allred, marriage equality, Rabbi Denise Eger, Robin Tyler

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. IMG_1791.jpgThat 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.

(Clickety all pics to embiggen)

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 - IMG_1785.jpgand 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. IMG_1806.jpgAllred 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.

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Robin Tyler, Gloria Allred and Diane Olson

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Robin Tyler and Rev Troy Perry

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Robin Tyler and Equality California's Cary Davidson

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Robin Tyler and Equal Roots youth

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Robin Tyler and Diane Olson feed cake to Gloria Allred

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Kathy Refaely & Cheri Schroeder eating cake before trying to get a license

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Wedding cake with pictures of California Supreme Court Justices

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Author Lillian Faderman and her partner since 1971, Phyllis Irwin

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Rabbi Denise Eger and the Rev. Troy Perry


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 14, 2009 1:02 PM

This is a great story Karen! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Robin and Diane congratulations again! It looks like a beautiful event.

Beautiful pictures of a beautiful couple.

Thank you so much for the wonderful story about our recommitment ceremony yesterday. It is so important that our National community understands that the upcoming case to overturn Prop 8 is way
beyond the marriage issue. It is a way the radical right can gut not just the CA Constitution, but also, invalidate the power of the CA California Supreme Court. And, if they can
invalidate the Court system here in California, they can do it everywhere. I hope that the night
of the ruling,(which has to be done prior to June 5-within 90 days of the hearing) thousands of us will pour out on to the streets in celebration. But, if they rule to UPHOLD and part of Prop 8, then hundreds of thousands of us need to take to the streets, as angry as we have ever been. Because, if people, all people, cannot rely on the courts for protection, there goes Democracy, and here comes mob rule. Robin Tyler


Robin I agree. Here is my latest Op Ed. I know you are religious and believe in the Torah. Sorry if I offend you.
Definition of Marriage - Tax Revolt

Last fall Evangelicals knelt before Merrill Lynch's bronze bull sculpture and begged for God's forgiveness for "allowing homosexual marriages" much like their prayers after 9/11. These Christians called the economic collapse payback from up above for America recognizing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. It seems that the definition of marriage is being bastardized by bible-thumpers who don’t know their religious history. Same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed in 1996 and signed into law by President Clinton defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Many co-sponsors of the bill in both the House and Senate referred to religious beliefs in their statements arguing for the bill’s passage. Many said that marriage was under attack and that God laid down that one man and one woman is a legal union. That is marriage known for thousands of years. President Obama one of the Senators who did not vote for the unfair law and he has promised to repeal DOMA as President.

Those who would continue to discriminate against some of our citizens, would tell you that we are changing the definition and meaning of marriage. They are absolutely right. But what they are wrong about is in claiming that marriage has always had one meaning, up until now.

Marriage for men in the Old Testament included multiple wives, not to mention concubines, if you were wealthy enough. Marriage until the Middle Ages was all about property, legitimacy of heirs, and inheritance rights. So decidedly so that common people and serfs on an estate were not even encourage to be married, since there was nothing to inherit.

Religions and people of faith have nothing to fear by changing the definition of marriage. Just 40 years ago the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage to include people of different races, a change in definition that allowed President Obama’s parents to be married. The definition of marriage has always been evolving and the inclusion of same gender partners is simply the next logical revision of that evolution.

The definition of marriage resonates with me because I am widowed from my wife of 23 years and I am now married to a man that I have been with for 18 years.. Kevin and I are one of the 18,000 same gender couples legally married in California. Has your marriage to your opposite sex partner been undermined in any way by my professed love for and commitment to my partner? Has western civilization as we know it come to an end? Has the family been eroded as a cornerstone of our society,
or has it been strengthened by the solemn and genuine commitments taken on by gay and lesbian couples in the state of California?

The state affects a civil marriage. Churches, synagogues, and mosques may pronounce bono fide marriages even if they are not presided over by a member of the clergy. All the rights, privileges and responsibilities of civil marriage pertain, even if there was nothing religious involved or intended. This is clearer in countries like France, where everyone is married at the mayor’s office. Those couples who are religious and desire a blessing, go to their place of worship for such a service. Civil marriage is a civil act, proven by the reality that when a marriage become unraveled, the couple doesn’t go back to the church
or synagogue, where the service was performed, to dissolve that marriage, but to the state and its courts.

Praying to a Merrill/Lynch bronze bull is Idolatry and against the Second Commandment that forbids the worship of images on any religious ground.. These same people elect Congressional lawmakers who don't know the meaning of the Ten Commandments to fight for religion in the public square.

We gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender people are fed up and the time for a tax revolt is NOW. The time to amend the Civil Rights Amendment of 1964 to include sexual orientation is NOW. Why should I pay taxes to a government that tacitly allows discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation to GLBT individuals? Until the Civil Rights Act is amended to include them, all GLBT individuals in the USA will continue to be 2nd class citizens. And for that I have to pay a 1st class tab every April 15th?

Charles Merrill 75, www.merrillcharles.com is a bi-sexual artist and activist and legally married to a man, Kevin Boyle in the State of California. He is a cousin to Charlie Merrill, the late founder of Merrill/Lynch brokerage company. He has appeared on National Public Radio, San Francisco, Rachael Maddow Air America Radio Show, (Alan Colmes) FOX news radio, publisher and editor, The Arts in Ireland, photojournalist for Conde Nast magazines.

Terry Leftgoff | February 15, 2009 2:52 PM

Robin and Diane:

I was honored and privileged to be a part of your wedding - again.

Mazel Tov!

Nothing more beautiful in this cold world than a loving couple who wants to go it together and has had to fight so hard to make it official.

Nothing is more important than the loving relationships we leave behind.

I'm very proud of you.

The radical right knows they lost the arugument over the separation of church and state. Since they connot impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us, which they keep attempting to do nonetheless, they have tried, through the back door, to impose the individual tenants of their religious beliefs on us.

Your original lawsuit, filed against great resistance from our gay organizations, re-ignited our movement. Now it is reaching a critical mass with unstoppable momentum as new generations take up the mantle.

Hopefully the CA Supreme Court justices do the right thing. First stop CA Supreme Court. Already 2 federal judges have separately and privately said DOMA is unconstitutional.

We will not rest until every gay citizen in every state has the same civil rights.