WEDDING BELLS: Mayor Marty Blum officiates the marriage of Andy and Manny Edgar-Beltran. (June 17, 2008)
Paul Wellman

The right of same-sex couples to legally marry expanded to all 50 states this morning in a historic Supreme Court decision. Leading the majority 5-4 vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy — who has arguably progressed the gay rights cause more than any other American jurist — opinioned in closing that “it would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they . . . respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

Gay marriage has been a right in California since 2008 — albeit halted by Prop 8 until 2013 — and before this morning’s ruling by the nation’s highest court, same-sex couples could not get married in 13 states. “After years of hard-fought battles here in California and throughout our nation, today is a day to celebrate this decisive and historic victory for equality across America,” Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said in a statement.

This is a developing story. Check back for more reactions and opinions from Santa Barbara’s leaders and activists. In the meantime, you can view President Barack Obama’s full speech on the ruling below.

[UPDATE]: Gregory Gandrud, the openly gay former chair of the Republican Party of Santa Barbara County, woke up Friday morning and checked — as he does every morning — to read the Supreme Court decision. “I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s a wonderful decision.” Gandrud, who has been a member of the gay and lesbian Log Cabin Republican’s club for two decades, played a role in the California Republican Party’s long-awaited decision in March to officially recognize the Log Cabin group.

Gandrud made other strides on the issue of same-sex marriage within Santa Barbara’s GOP community. In 2008, the county Republican Party did not have the required two-thirds majority vote to take an official position in support of Proposition 8, the state measure that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional in a federal appeals court in 2013.

Efforts to reach Dale Francisco, the current chair of Republican Party of Santa Barbara County, who in 2008 made a financial contribution to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, were not immediately successful.

Congresswoman Lois Capps, who is not seeking reelection next year, applauded the court’s definitive ruling “on what we have known in our hearts all along – that all Americans should have the freedom to marry the person whom they love [and] another important step toward ensuring that no one in this country suffers discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

The two most prominent Santa Barbara politicians vying to fill Capps’ seat shared similar sentiments. While Mayor Schneider — whose Congressional run was recently endorsed by the LGBTQ community – expressed excitement that “our nation is finally realizing the full potential of our Constitution in becoming a more perfect union,” Supervisor Salud Carbajal strongly supported the ruling as an “important victory for civil rights,” adding that one of his goals in Congress will be to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and “other legislation to treat all Americans equally.”

Also vying for the 24th district congressional seat, Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian said, “I respect today’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and recognize it is now the law of the land. I hope we can move forward with dignity and respect for all.”

Shortly after the decision, Cynthia Camacho, interim executive director of Santa Barbara’s Pacific Pride Foundation, a LGBTQ advocate in the community for nearly 40 years, told The Independent, “As an agency we’re excited. As individuals we’re all exited. Hugs and cheers all around.” The foundation’s press release carried a more cautionary tone, from Youth Advocate Leader Jessica Lindsay. “I think that some people outside of the LGBTQIA community might assume our fight is over,” she said. “Just because the law has changed doesn’t mean the hearts of the homophobic and transphobic have opened. [But] I feel confident that people will recognize and continue the push for equality.”


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