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Supreme Court should allow gay marriage, California politicians say

December 8, 2012 |  8:28 am

Sandy Stier, left, and Kris Perry

Many of the states’ top political leaders, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Minority Leader  Nancy Pelosi, issued a flurry of statements urging the Supreme Court to strike down California's gay marriage ban.

The high court Friday said it would rule on the legality of Proposition 8, the California voter-approved measure from 2008 that forbade same-sex unions.

"I’m confident Supreme Court will discard ...Prop 8 into the dustbin of history," Pelosi said in a tweet Friday. "Let’s get this over with and on to the future!"

Added Feinstein: "I hope the Supreme Court ... restores marriage equality to California.”

MAP: How gay marriage has progressed in the U.S.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who put himself at the center of the debate in California by marrying same-sex couples when he was mayor of San Francisco, compared the case to Loving vs. Virginia, the 1967 court decision that permitted interracial couples to marry.

“Supreme Court here we come,” he tweeted.

California’s public battle over gay marriage began nearly nine years ago when San Francisco allowed same sex unions just before Valentine’s Day 2004, drawing thousands of couples to City Hall and making the state a flashpoint in the national debate.

Those marriages were invalidated. Then the California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that same-sex marriage was legal. But a few months later, California voters outlawed it by approving Proposition 8, which amended the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

After that vote, Kris Perry and partner Sandy Stier, along with another gay couple from Burbank, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, signed on as plaintiffs in Hollingsworth vs. Perry, beginning years of litigation that culminated Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in.

For gay marriage backers, the excitement of Proposition 8 going to the Supreme Court was tempered by nervousness about how the conservative majority would land on the issue. Had the court not taken the case, an earlier appeals court ruling invalidating Proposition 8 would have stood and marriages could have begun.

“I think any time our gay issues go to the U.S. Supreme Court we are all filled with anxiety because you never know,” said West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, who is gay. “Whatever decision they make, if it’s adverse, we have to live with it for a generation.”

In a sign of hedging bets, some activists said they were now mulling a 2014 ballot measure to repeal Proposition 8 if the Supreme Court upholds it.

Gay marriage foes were decidedly more ebullient, saying they liked their chances in front of the high court.

“Arguing this case before the Supreme Court finally gives us a chance at a fair hearing, something that hasn’t been afforded to the people since we began this fight,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage.com.

Jim Campbell, the lead counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and another of the lawyers in the case, added in a statement that “marriage between a man and a woman is a universal good that diverse cultures and faiths have honored throughout the history of Western Civilization.”

For many gay people in California, however, the court’s action was felt more personally.

Dave Reynolds, 28, of Santa Monica, said he married his husband, JJ Shepherd, in August in New York, where same-sex unions are legal, after they grew tired of waiting for marriage to come to California.

Reynolds and Shepherd, 31, first met as kids at summer camp. They would have preferred to have a wedding in California.

“No one cries at civil unions or a domestic partnership. No one cries at signing a document at the courthouse. They cry at weddings,” Reynolds said.

Perry and Stier hope they will have their turn soon.

“We are full of anticipation today,” Perry said. “We are elated with the possiblity of great things happening.”

-- Jessica Garrison, Ashley Powers and Matt Stevens

Photo: Proposition 8 plaintiff Kris Perry, right, with partner Sandy Stier in February, said, “We’ve learned how to be really patient and understanding of this process.” Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times