Photos: Hundreds Rally In West Hollywood After Historic Gay Marriage Decision
Following Wednesday's monumental U.S. Supreme Court decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, hundreds of giddy gay marriage supporters turned out for a rally June 26 in West Hollywood. Among them was actress Meredith Baxter, who says she and her girlfriend of eight years might tie the knot now that same-sex marriage is legal in California.
The actress, who came out in 2009, said, "It's fabulous. I don't have words to describe it." She said that marriage is "on the table" with her girlfriend, Nancy Locke. "It's been on the table, but now it's like, 'Let's get talking.'" She said she never considered going to another state where gay marriage is legal, explaining, "I've lived here all my life."
I spoke with supporters both gay and straight who said how much this day meant to them.
Tempress Grefphenreed was handing out signs that read, "Marry who you love." She told LAist, "This means so, so very much. I've been protesting and rallying since I was 11. My sister is lesbian and she taught me about it a long, long time ago. I'm happy for this day. I wasn't here for civil rights, but this is feeling really good."
Lindsay and Patricia Vance got married in March in Maryland. "I think we're going to [get married again] in California, just to make sure it's legal." Lindsay took Patricia's last name, saying, "I wanted to be part of hers, she's my everything."
Elysha Dunn said, "I can tell my kids, 'Yeah, I was there when Prop 8 and DOMA were overturned. It's just a really awesome time where our society is changing and progressing. It means so much to me that the U.S. finally recognizes that love is equal and universal and my friends and family members can finally have the same rights as everyone else."
Kacee Wheeler, clad in a "Gay Okay" shirt, told LAist what this decision means to her: "It means I have the right to marry who I want to, when I want to, and no one's above me anymore. It's like a weight lifted off our shoulders. Finally, we're all equal."
Nikki from the NoH8 campaign said, "I've been married to my husband for eight years now and to think that anyone is denied the right to love who they want and the benefits that everybody else gets, is something that everybody should be fighting."
Tonee Martin and Jade Pittman used to date (they were high school sweethearts), but are now best friends. They drove in from Pasadena to be at the rally. Pittman says the Supreme Court's recognition of the rights for gay marriage means "the beginning of forever. It's so awesome." Martin shared, "I have CNN on my phone and I get the alerts. I woke up and I was like, "Yes! It's finally happening!"
West Hollywood resident Christopher Bratten said, "I felt like today was kind of a tipping point. There are still 30 some states that have to accept gay marriage, but I feel like this is the point where it all starts to spill over."
Pam Noles was beaming with joy, saying, "Today, the Supreme Court did something right for America. My parents marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., my dad fought to have the job he does. I cannot help but assist in someone else's civil rights fight, and just because they keep putting all those evil black preachers on TV does not mean we all believe that."
Local semi-celebrity "Sunset Jesus" (real name Kevin Lee Light), said today meant, "Equality for all. Peace and love. I'm a supporter of everything positive and loving."
Brazilian native Cynthia Klingelfuss, wearing a "Sometimes Chicks Marry Chicks" message tee, said she now "feels 100 percent free to pursue love with anybody I want to."
Kristen Tribby, who was wearing a rainbow dress, expressed concern that this victory might make people complacent: "I think today was a small victory. We have a lot to do still. I'm fearful that assimilation is going to make us not fight for the rights that are still out there. My greater hope is that people are still going to stay on the movement and call for equality of all. I'm worried that people are going to lose steam because they'll feel they have [total] equality now."
Bert Champagne was happy, but mourning what might have been if this decision had come down years ago. "Today it's just a vindication of what we fought for. We're just so happy that the government says we are not second-class citizens, we are human beings." He lost his partner eight years ago. "We always said were were always going to get married and sometimes things just don't work out."
His friend Bob Bigelow shared a similar story: "My partner of 32 years died a year ago this coming Friday." He said that "absolutely" they would have gotten married if it had been an option.
Kelly Lett, who had a NOH8 temporary tattoo on her face, told me, "It just means I'm going to have a whole bunch of fabulous weddings to attend. I'm really excited about it, because I've been supporting them, and it's been really hard to see their struggle."
Local gay-friendly churches are already preparing for a surge in weddings, although marriage licenses won't be handed out for another 25 days.
Dr. Neil Thomas of Founders Metropolitan Community church in Los Feliz said that the church performed several weddings in 2008 when gay marriage was briefly legal in California. "We are ready to start doing them again," Thomas said. "We've been receiving calls from out of state and local as well. As soon as the 25 days is over, we're ready to go."
Another man wearing a minister's collar, Reverend Steven Demuth of Holy Trinity in Covina, said, "We're just here celebrating this incredible day for Californians, Americans and people of faith."
Along with a slew of other community members and leaders, outgoing mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at the rally, saying, "Today marks a historic day for civil rights, a historic day for the Constitution of America, a historic day for love and a historic day for the LGBT community. This morning equality triumphed. Proposition 8 is gone and done!"