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Sacramento LGBT and Allied Community Reacts to Prop 8 Ruling

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Tuesday, shortly after the ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denying an en banc hearing, upholding an earlier ruling that Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, LGBT leaders and community members gathered at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center for a press conference.

Shara Murphy, Executive Director of the Center hosted members of the Board of Directors of Equality Action NOW, same-sex couples who are waiting to be married, representatives of organizations such as the Sacramento Stonewall Democrats, Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento City Councilman elect, Steve Hansen,  as well as allies and members of the community.

While most are happy that the decision, basically indicated that the State of California and California’s highest court all agree that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and should be struck down and may move to the Supreme Court, many same-sex couple’s patience are wearing thin.

Dr. Nicola Simmersbach and Diana Luiz had planned on heading out of town for their sixth anniversary of being together in a relationship under a domestic partnership, but decided to stay in town and attend the news conference at the Center.

Dr. Simmersbach, an individual and couples therapist, expressed her conflict in a telephone interview. “On the one hand it would be nice if it did go on to the Supreme Court and we win. That would really help states where achieving marriage equality would be difficult. On the other hand this is extremely personal, and because Diana has health issues, we need those protections you can only have by being married, not in a domestic partnership.”

“There are times Diana cannot speak to her Doctor and I must intercede on her behalf,” Dr. Simmersbach explained. “I can’t tell you how many times I am reminded since I am not a ‘spouse or relative’ they cannot discuss her health record with me. This is serious and we need legal relief now, not in a year or two when the courts decide. As a citizen of this country and state Diana and I do not think we need permission from the people of California nor the courts for full equality, and it’s frustrating living like this day-in and day-out!”

In an interview with News 10 later in the day, Ken Pierce and Lisa Ford Berry expressed the importance of marriage equality for young people. Berry is founder of B.R.A.V.E. (Bullies Really Are Violating Everyone) Society and Pierce, a media consultant and LGBT activist.

“In considering marriage equality in light of my son’s bullycide in 2008 on his 17th birthday due to a perceived notion he was gay and who was subjected to peer abuse and harassment, I know that family meant a great deal to my son. In my travels all over the state I meet other young people who are conflicted because of their religious beliefs and connection to their family, but because of their sexual orientation and not having positive role-models, feel they are condemned by society”, said Berry.

“As a straight woman living here in America, I have always had choices. I could have chosen not to get married, though I did. I could have chosen not to have children, though I did. I did both of those things because it was important to both my husband and myself, and it is part of who we are as a society. Why is that any different to a young person who is in love with someone of the same sex? They want the same things as I do so why would I, or anyone, deny them the same pursuit of stability and happiness as I have had all my life?”

“I agree with same-sex couples who are tired of waiting, but from the standpoint that we need to give our young people hope now, and not wait another year or two while the country is having a ‘discussion’ about marriage equality. I don’t want another 13 year old to end his or her life because they feel alone and their own dreams of falling in love, getting married and raising a family is just that – a dream. We need to make it a reality here in California now!” exclaimed Berry.

Proponents of Prop 8 have 90 days to file with the Supreme Court, asking them to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court. If the Court decided to take Prop 8 on, the earliest a decision could be made would be July 2013.

In an interview Wednesday, David Boies, co-lead counsel for the plaintive couples said, “So, our goal was to seek the overturn of Proposition 8 in California. We have succeeded in doing that so far in the district court, and now in the Ninth Circuit…We have an obligation to our clients and to the citizens of California who’ve been waiting now for nearly four years for the opportunity to get married like their fellow citizens. And, we would want to preserve that victory fundamentally.”

So the thousands of committed same-sex couples and their families, friends, and allies who are ready to line up at the city or county clerks offices all across the state of California wait and go about their lives, still as second-class citizens, still as steadfast in their convictions as they were four years ago when all of this began in earnest, still hoping their dreams will come true.

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