Santa Barbara Gays, Allies Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

State Supreme Court Overturned 2000's Ban on Such Unions

Pacific Pride Rally at the Santa Barbara Courthouse
Paul Wellman

“It’s about time.” That was the theme echoed at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens Thursday evening as community members gathered to celebrate the historic Supreme Court decision that granted same-sex couples the right to marry. The majority opinion, penned by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, stated, “An individual’s sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”

Jared Schwartz Executive Director of Just Communities
Paul Wellman

Overturning Proposition 22, the voter-approve initiative from 2000 that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, the 4-3 ruling made California the second state in the U.S. to allow gays and lesbians the right to marry. (Massachusetts extended such rights in 2004.) The rally, organized by Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) and Just Communities, saw upward of 200 people come out to celebrate with various elected officials, activists, and religious leaders taking the mike to voice their support of the decision. “Today I am proud of the State of California and its Supreme Court,” Santa Barbara City Councilmember Helene Schneider said to loud applause. “They say June is a great month to get married, and that is certainly going to be true this June.”

The palpable excitement was tempered by speakers reminding the audience that the fight to retain the rights granted in the decision continues. Conservative groups have mounted a campaign to get on November’s general election ballot an amendment to the California state constitution banning same-sex marriage. “This is just the beginning of the fight of our lives,” said PPF Executive Director David Selberg said. “Right-wing extremists have raised millions of dollars” to get an initiative on November’s ballot. “But Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger has promised to veto such an amendment : and we have to hold him to that promise.”

Janet Stanley, former Executive Director Pacific Pride Foundation
Paul Wellman

Jared Schwartz, executive director of Just Communities, said that as a straight man, his commitment to his wife was made stronger by the court’s decision. “This ruling makes my family stronger because it is part of a just society,” he said. “Love-not gender-is at the core of a relationship.” The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Geoff Green said he was pleased with the turnout, saying that his own marriage, which took place on April 20, “was made sweeter with this decision.”

Santa Barbara City Council Member Helene Schneider and David Selberg, Executive. Director Pacific Pride Foundation
Paul Wellman

“This ruling is really about families,” Kelly Bartlett said after the rally. “I’m moved to tears: I’m not a very political person, but this is more than that. This is a personal issue.” Barbara Hirsch seconded the monumental nature of the ruling. “This is a real symbol of American progress,” Hirsch said, mentioning that a woman and black man running for president is another indication of such development. “It’s a quintessential example of progress for the human race.”


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