Villaraigosa calls on court to lift stay on gay marriages
In a boisterous City Hall rally Tuesday celebrating a federal appeals court decision to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called on the court to also lift its stay on the marriages and said he can't wait until he can again perform weddings for same-sex couples.
"I want to feel the love in their hearts and to see the joy on their faces," he told a crowd of activists and city workers gathered in City Hall's ornate rotunda.
Four years ago, Villaraigosa and other officials presided over dozens of same-sex unions. Councilman Eric Garcetti, who performed a marriage that year between two of his former staff members on the steps of City Hall, said Tuesday that he wasn't old enough to remember the 1960s, and that for him, "2008 was my summer of love."
The marriages stopped in November of that year, when California voters narrowly approved a ban on same-sex marriage. Lesbian and gay activists challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8, and have been engaged in a protracted legal struggle with the ban's supporters ever since.
Those supporters have pledged to appeal Tuesday's ruling.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is gay, waved a rainbow flag at the rally and said those appeals mean the battle is not over yet.
Another official in the crowd, Brenda Barnette, head of the L.A. Department of Animal Services, said she was proud that Los Angeles has been so supportive of the gay and lesbian civil rights fight.
When she heard about Tuesday's ruling, she immediately called her girlfriend and invited her to the City Hall rally. But she joked that the invitation was not a proposal.
"I don't know if I see marriage in my life," Barnette said. "But I think it should be the right of a couple to do it."
-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall