Celebrating the overturning of Proposition 8 – California’s gay marriage ban – hundreds of supporters of gay marriage gathered in West Hollywood on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The crowd marched up and down Santa Monica boulevard, going several blocks east from the West Hollywood Library to Santa Monica boulevard and Westmount drive and back again. Police cars blocked several blocks of Santa Monica boulevard.
Speakers at the rally included Mayor John Duran of West Hollywood, Reverend Dr. Neil Thomas of Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles, Jon Davidson, legal director for LAMBDA and Diane Abbit, a LGBT rights activist.
The ban against gay marriage was passed in 2008. Today’s ruling, a 2-1 decision by the judges of the Ninth Circuit Courthouse in San Francisco, prompted celebrations throughout the state.
However, because of a 9th Circuit rule, same sex marriages cannot resume for at least two weeks and opponents of gay marriage vowed to appeal the decision, according to Reuters.
On San Vicente boulevard, cars driving at slow speeds in rush hour honked in support. Marchers, many with face-paint, carried rainbow flags, held up signs that said “It’s Time! Marriage Equality” and chanted rallying cries like “2, 4, 6, 8, goodbye Prop 8.”
“This is what all the hard work has gone on for,” said Congregation Kol Ami member Arthur Bernstein, 49, in attendance at the rally. “This is equality, as a California, as a U.S. citizen, as a Jew.
“This gives California an opportunity to model some of the freedoms [LGBT people] get in Israel,” Bernstein, a West Hollywood resident, said, referring to the openness in Israeli society and the Israeli army toward homosexuality.
A LGBT 28-year-old named Dan, who identified as Jewish but did not want to give his last name, said he’s particularly affected by the decision. He married his friend, a girl, who’s gay, from Australia, needed temporary legal status here and was not allowed to marry her girlfriend.
“We are obviously both strong supporters of gay marriage and gay rights and equal rights for all,” Dan said. “The whole reason we’re married is because she wasn’t allowed to marry her girlfriend to stay in the country.”
In an interview with the Journal, Thomas insisted that the overturn is a decision that religious groups can get behind. “There is no one religious voice here in America,” he said. “There is a progressive voice on the side of LGBT…whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.”
Thomas estimated that there were 300 in people in attendance. But by 7:45 p.m., only a handful of people remained by the West Hollywood Library, and talk veered toward grabbing celebratory drinks and dinner nearby.
Assembly member Mike Feuer, who was represented at the rally by his deputy chief of staff, released a statement applauding the overturn. “Today, a federal appeals court upheld our most cherished constitutional principle, that all Americans are equal under the law.”