Same-sex marriage: Californians react to Supreme Court ruling

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The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, a historic culmination of two decades of litigation over gay marriage and gay rights generally. Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.


3:04 p.m.: Californians react to SCOTUS ruling

Californians have taken to social media, to the streets and to the airwaves to celebrate and to debate the Supreme Court's landmark ruling to extend gay marriage to all 50 states.

Matthew Mansell and John Espejo, two of the 30 plaintiffs in the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, responded on KPCC's AirTalk Friday.

Espejo said they were "happy and ecstatic" that it went their way.

"We're very very pleased with the ruling. I wish it had been a little bit more like 7-2, but we'll take the 5-4," Mansell said.

The two, now residents of Orange County, were wed in California, but when their jobs sent them to Tennessee, they discovered their marriage would no longer be recognized once they set foot across the state's border.

"We were legal strangers although we had known each other for over 20 years," Mansell said.

The couple has two children — an 8-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, both of whom they said were excited at the news, "but other than wanting to play their Xbox or swimming, life goes on for them," Mansell said.

Both members of the California delegation to the U.S. Senate responded positively to the news.

"Today my heart is full of joy because the Supreme Court recognized that all Americans should be able to marry the person they love," said Sen. Barbara Boxer in a statement.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the issue was "very personal for me. I spent two decades as a supervisor and then mayor of San Francisco, when the city was at the forefront of bringing LGBT people out of the shadows. I watched firsthand as the community fought for legal recognition of their lives, relationships and personal dignity. I could not be more thrilled to share in their happiness on this historic day."

Here's more from Feinstein's statement:

"Equality for LGBT Americans has been one of the defining civil rights issues of our time. I was one of only 14 senators to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it is clear that all of DOMA is unconstitutional. Congress must now act to strike it from our laws once and for all. The only place where DOMA—and other discriminatory laws—belongs is in the history books."

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued this statement:

"With the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots this weekend, we're reminded of how long and winding the road to equality has been. Today, our highest court has upheld a principle enshrined in our Constitution, but only now finally realized for same-sex couples across America."

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the city's first openly gay mayor, planned to raise a Rainbow Pride Flag over the Civic Plaza in response to the ruling, NBC4 reported:

"Love won, freedom won and equality won," Garcia said. "Millions of Americans, including myself and my longtime partner, will finally be treated equally under the law."

But the court's decision had its detractors, too. Among them is Professor John Eastman, professor of law and founding director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at Chapman University and Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, a D.C.-based nonprofit working to defend marriage and the faith communities that filed an amicus brief in this case.

"I'm angry," Eastman told KPCC's AirTalk, arguing the court had "manufactured a new right and radically changed an understanding of a core social institution without any real valid basis in constitutional law, and they've usurped the decisions of more than 50 million Americans who have quite recently voted to reaffirm the longstanding understanding of marriage."

Eastman said the decision could create problems beyond the fight over the definition of marriage and decried the seeming expansion of the role of an unelected judiciary in a democratic form of government. He argued the court's decision was setting a dangerous precedent:

"Do they decide controversial issues for us, saying that we have no business or capacity to decide them ourselves as a people, or is that notion of judicial supremacy going to be beat back? And quite frankly, we're at a precipice of a very dangerous trend of a court, unelected, deciding every major social issue for us, and that's not what the system of government that we were bequeathed by our founders and I hope it's not one that the American people are willing to tolerate."

Retired District Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Hollingsworth v. Perry five years ago, where he found California's Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, told AirTalk that the case was more straightforward.

"This was not so difficult a case on constitutional grounds as it was on political grounds. You read the majority opinion and it's quite straightforward, but marriage is such a central feature of people's lives, and society, and it is so important to people that it has political or social ramifications that make it more difficult."

— KPCC staff

2:50 p.m.: How TV shows like 'Modern Family' shaped same-sex-marriage perceptions

On KPCC's The Frame, MIT Professor of Media Edward Schiappa discusses television's influence on public opinion in regard to same-sex marriage. He runs through some key moments from the past 25 years.

1:00 p.m.: Celebrations set for West Hollywood, Long Beach, Lancaster, Pasadena

Rallies will be held in West Hollywood and other Southland cities tonight to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, as groups that have fought for years to enable gay and lesbian couples to wed finally raise their arms in victory.

“Today is a proud moment in our nation’s history,” said West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath. “Marriage equality is now the law of the land, bestowing upon all couples the legal benefits and protections afforded by our government. We celebrate this important victory for LGBT rights as we continue the struggle for full equality among all people.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community leaders, dozens of community organizations will join together at the celebration, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard. One of the invited speakers is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Another rally will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Long Beach Civic Center Plaza, sponsored by the LGBTQ Center Long Beach.

The OUTreach Center in Lancaster will hold a 5 p.m. rally at Avenue K and 15th Street West.

A 6 p.m. rally organized by several groups is being planned in Pasadena at 340 Lake Ave., near the Metro Gold Line station.

— KPCC staff and wires

12:22 p.m.: Infographic: Expansion of gay marriage in 20 seconds

The Associated Press shared the following animated GIF showing the expansion of gay marriage in the United States since 2004.


11:40 a.m.: Religious groups, Republican candidates denounce ruling

Two important religious groups that oppose gay marriage are denouncing the Supreme Court decision legalizing it in every state.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says it is "profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage."

And evangelical leaders who are part of the Southern Baptist Convention, along with other churches and Christian groups, say there can be no capitulation in defending traditional marriage because "biblical authority" requires the struggle against same-sex marriage to continue.

About 90 evangelical leaders, pastors and writers in the group issued a declaration on marriage, titled "Here We Stand." They acknowledge a "cultural shift" on the question but say evangelical churches must assert what they call the "enduring truth that marriage consists of one man and one woman."

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, is president of the bishops conference. He says that just as the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion over 40 years ago did not settle that question, the gay marriage decision Friday won't put that debate to rest. He says neither decision is rooted in the truth and both will eventually fail.

Meanwhile, there's division among several of the Republican candidates for president about the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has condemned the decision by what he calls "five unelected justices" who make up the ruling's 5-4 majority.

Santorum is a social conservative, and he says the court has redefined "the foundational unit that binds together our society, without public debate or input."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweets that the ruling is "irrational" and "threaten religious liberty" and Congress must act.

Another Republican hopeful, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, also takes issue with the court redefining marriage, as she sees it. But she doesn't dispute the conclusion. She says she's always believed "all Americans should have equal benefits and rights."

Another rival, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, says he'll "respect the court's decision."

He calls himself "a proud defender of traditional marriage." But the senator says it's futile to attempt a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

— Associated Press

10:08 a.m.: Quotes on historic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage

Some comments on Friday's historic Supreme Court ruling that gives same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states:

Lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell:

"From this day forward, it will simply be 'marriage.'''

Matthew Mansell, who with his spouse, Johno Espejo, was among the plaintiffs:

"I'm trying to breathe. ... Now we can live anywhere in the U.S. and be a legally married couple, even if I am transferred. ... You can't always pick and choose where you live. My family doesn't have to worry anymore."

President Barack Obama:

"There's so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we've made our union a little more perfect."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination:

"Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that."

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral, Washington:

"We in the faith community have much work yet to do as we seek to end all discrimination against the LGBT community in America and the world."

Roman Catholic Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati:

"Every nation has laws limiting who and under what circumstances people can be married. This is because lawmakers have always understood that marriage does not exist just for the mutual satisfaction of the two people involved but for the betterment of society."

The Utah-based Mormon church, in a statement:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine thatmarriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."

Chris Villines, executive director of the Association of Arkansas Counties, whose group is advising clerks on Friday's ruling:

"It is the law of the land now. It is our opinion that that ruling does stand and they will need to follow it."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:

"The Supreme Court sided with love, justice and dignity over bigotry and intolerance. By holding that the Constitution protects the right of each American to marry the person they love, the Court vindicated the principle of equal justice under law."

Mary Bonauto, the civil rights project director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders who argued before the court on behalf of gay couples from Michigan and Kentucky:

"No single ruling can fix the scarring prejudice and stereotypes that have plagued good people for so long, but this can go a long way in helping people discover their common humanity."

Renee Binder, president of the American Psychiatric Association, which in 1973 removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders:

"Today's ruling strikes a blow to inequality and discrimination throughout the nation, and that's good for Americans' mental health."

— Associated Press

9:13 a.m.: Gay marriages under way in some states; others must wait

Gay marriages are already underway in some states where they were banned until the Supreme Court ruling Friday.

Several gay couples have received marriage licenses in Atlanta since the decision came out. One of those couples, Petrina Bloodworth and Emma Foulkes, were wed in a morning ceremony and are the first same-sex couple to be married in Georgia's Fulton County. So says court clerk James Brock.

In Travis County, Texas, Gena Dawson and Charlotte Rutherford were the first same-sex couple in the state to receive a marriage license, within two hours of the ruling.

As well, a same-sex marriage license has been issued in Arkansas, another state that banned gay marriage until the Supreme Court weighed in. This was in Faulkner County, almost immediately after the ruling came out.

The governor of Kentucky has also instructed county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In Mississippi, however, Attorney General Jim Hood said gay marriages cannot take place right away.

— Associated Press

9:07 a.m.: Justice 'arrives like a thunderbolt,' Obama says

President Barack Obama says the Supreme Court's ruling giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide represents a day when justice "arrives like a thunderbolt."

The president, in a Rose Garden statement, said the court ruling has "made our union a little more perfect."

It was not until 2012 that Obama announced his own support for gay marriage. Now, he says, the court ruling will end the patchwork of laws on marriage across the country and the uncertainty that they create for same-sex couples.

Watch the president's full statement below:


— Associated Press

8:42 a.m.: A before/after look at states with legal gay marriage

NPR put together the following map showing states where same-sex marriage was banned before Friday's Supreme Court decision. It also shows which states took action on their own to legalize gay marriage before the decision.

— KPCC staff

7:13 a.m.: Supreme Court extends same-sex marriage nationwide

The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, a historic culmination of two decades of litigation over gay marriage and gay rights generally.

Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

Gay rights supporters cheered, danced and wept outside the court after the decision, which put an exclamation point on breathtaking changes in the nation's social norms.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.

"No union is more profound than marriage," Kennedy wrote, joined by the court's four more liberal justices.

The stories of the people asking for the right to marry "reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses' memory, joined by its bond," Kennedy said.

As he read his opinion, spectators in the courtroom wiped away tears after the import of the decision became clear.

The four dissenting justices each filed a separate opinion explaining his views, but they all agreed that states and their voters should have been left with the power to decide who can marry.

"This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.

"If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision," Roberts said. "But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage but about "this court's threat to American democracy." Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.


The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The cases before the court involved laws from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders and they also have refused to recognize valid marriages from elsewhere.

Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor formed the majority with Kennedy on Friday, the same lineup as two years ago.

The earlier decision in United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

The number of states allowing same-sex marriage has grown rapidly. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted it.

There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to UCLA's Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, the institute says.

The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department's decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights, and Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.

The states affected by Friday's ruling are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood: Gay marriages cannot take place immediately in state.


— Mark Sherman/Associated Press. AP writers Jessica Gresko, Sam Hananel and Glynn Hill contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.

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