As part of a nationwide call to action, Santa Barbarans gathered at the downtown Courthouse Sunken Gardens on Saturday, January 10, to sign a petition asking President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton. The act claims that no state “need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state” and that the federal government does not recognize “same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.”
During his campaign, Obama made a number of promises to the gay and lesbian community, including repealing DOMA, enacting an inclusive nondiscrimination act that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and repealing the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the last of which was also approved during Clinton’s presidency. Saturday’s protest was an organized attempt to gather one million signatures to an open letter to Obama, asking that he follow through with these campaign promises. The signature drive was spearheaded by Join the Impact, a political group formed in the wake of the passage of California’s Proposition 8, and organized in S.B. County by Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF). The foundation’s executive director, David Selberg, was in Santa Maria to support the protest in the North County. Gary Clark led the event at the Sunken Gardens.
At the rally, Clark mentioned PPF’s formation of the Strategic Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME), of which he is a member. According to PPF’s Web site, “the goal of SAME is to motivate and promote local activism in the effort to achieve marriage equality at a local, state, and national level.” SAME will host a town-hall meeting about marriage equality in the Faulkner Gallery at the Santa Barbara Library on Wednesday, January 14, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.