A rally of 100 marriage equality supporters gathered early this morning outside the appellate court holding signs that read "Love and Commitment = Marriage" and wearing heart stickers that read "Liberty, justice, and marriage equality."
Despite a powerful storm that flooded the city streets the day before, today's skies were blue with bright beams of sunshine. A Rabbi speaking in support of marriage equality mentioned the holiday Chanukah and how we are bringing in the light for marriage equality. He said that while we cannot light all the candles at once, we as a movement are in between candle 5 and candle 6, (there are 8 candles), indicating that we are almost done lighting the damn candles or that we are bound to have a miracle soon.
Supportive clergy and people of faith from a variety of religious affiliations, PFLAG parents, LGBT youth, children of LGBT parents, same-sex couples who were married in 2004 and/or 2008, and those who are anxiously waiting to wed to hold on to that special guy or gal were all gathered at the steps of the courthouse. They shared their stories about why marriage equality was essential to their well-being and recognition as equal American citizens under law.
At about 8:45 AM, Rev. Jesse Jackson phoned in live from Chicago to declare his support for marriage equality. While he spoke the powerful words I've included below, anti-gay protestors screamed "faggot" through a bullhorn that dwarfed our sound system and said that we gay people know "nothing about love, only anal sex." They also had a free for all attacking Rev. Jackson's character.
Despite these intrusions, the marriage equality crowd was moved by Jackson's new commitment to full equal rights for same-sex couples and applauded when he said "If Dr. King and our civil rights movement has taught us anything, it's the fundamental principle of that all people deserve Equal protection under the law. LGBT people deserve equal rights - including marriage equality - and equal protection under the law. Discrimination against one group of people is discrimination against all of us. The State - and the Courts - should not sanction discrimination."
At 9:30 AM the court room and two over-flow rooms filled with people-- lawyers, reporters, attentive law students, longtime love warriors and post Prop 8 marriage equality advocates, including a handful of teens from a local GSA.
I sat in an over-flow room with marble walls, tiled mosaics of Lady Justice, multi-colored stained glass sky lights, uncomfortable wooden pews, and two big TV screens. The overflow room overflowed with laughter as Robert Tyler with the Liberty Justice Council, (recently named a hate group, by the Southern Poverty Law Center), evaded Judge Hawkins questions.
"You're repeating yourself now." Judge Hawkins said.
Judge Hawkins is one of three judges who heard oral arguments today on the Prop 8 Case.
Briefly, they're Judge Hawkins, Phoenix, Arizona, appointed by President Bill Clinton;
Judge Reinhardt, Los Angeles, California, appointed by President Jimmy Carter; and
Judge Smith, Pocatello, Idaho, appointed by George W. Bush.
I have to say I was enjoying Robert Tyler floundering to make his point about how he believed a county clerk had the right to implement her personal prejudice at her government job. I loved it when the Judge said to the effect "How long would an employee last at a job when they refused to do what their boss asked them to do?"
But then I got uncomfortable when the judges asked our attorney David Boies about the fact that if Prop 8 was lifted it would only affect county clerks in Alameda and Los Angeles Counties where the plaintiffs were from and suggested that a "class action law suit" might have been a better approach. One judge implied that in order to enforce the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples by all 58 county clerks it would mean returning to the California State Supreme Court and that's when I may have hit myself in the head.
I'm just gonna trust that these lawyers knew what they were doing.
Top ten cases cited
For those poly sci majors and law students that were unable to attend, here are the top 10 cases mentioned today.
- Plessy v. Ferguson
- Brown v. Board
- Loving v. Virginia
- Crawford v. Washington
- Romer v. Evans
- Griswald v. Connecticut
- Lawrence v. Texas
- Turner v. Safley
- in re Marriage Cases
- the case that started it all for us same-sex couples: Baker v. Nelson
And your bonus, one I've never heard of, the Valley Forge Christian College Case.
Needless to say, the three-hour hearing was action packed and difficult to follow for those of us who never went to law school. What is easy to report on is how amazing our litigators Ted Olson and Therese Stewart are. They both received wild applause from the observers in the overflow rooms for their succinct arguments for equal protection and constitutional guarantees for all.
Let us hope that justice is swift so our people can wed again in California or so that we can take this fight to the highest court in the land and eradicate these bans once and for all!