Gay in Santa Barbara

Voices of Hope, Courage, and Change

Paul Wellman

This week’s Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage constituted a stunning one-two punch in favor of marriage equality. In one sweeping action, the Supreme Court rejected the Defense of Marriage Act ​— ​which explicitly denied legal recognition in all matters federal for same-sex marriages. The court found DOMA unconstitutional because it intruded on the exclusive right of state governments to recognize marriage as they saw fit. Less sweepingly, the high court also struck down California’s Proposition 8 ​— ​which also defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. On more narrow, technical grounds, the high court ruled Prop. 8’s supporters lacked the legal standing necessary to appeal a lower court ruling that found the measure unconstitutional because it singled out a class of individuals based solely on personal animus. The supporters appealed only after California Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris both refused to do so. As a practical matter, gays and lesbians can now legally marry whom they love in California.

Marriage equality supporters will be celebrating long and loud this week. Rarely in the history of America’s many civil rights struggles has public opinion shifted so suddenly and profoundly. But this week, The Independent takes a look back at the road leading from then to now. For gays and lesbians living in Santa Barbara, the experience has been anything but smooth or quick, the choices frequently painful. Reflecting on their personal journeys are high school students coming to terms with their sexual orientation, a prominent attorney who came of age in the age of AIDS, a professional therapist, a UCSB sociologist, and a recently married couple transplanted from the Bible Belt. Their accounts reflect how far we’ve come. We hope they shed light on how far we have yet to go

“DOMA’s avowed purpose and practical effect are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.” —Majority opinion, U.S. Supreme Court, rejecting the Defense of Marriage Act

“This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.” —Majority opinion, U.S. Supreme Court, rejecting the Defense of Marriage Act


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