Following yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision to end a ban on same-sex marriage, the local gay community celebrated and declared the ruling a victory on the path toward equality.
In response to the ruling, the Pacific Pride Foundation and Just Communities co-sponsored a press conference at the Santa Barbara Courthouse to commemorate the decision. Meanwhile, the UCSB Queer Student Union organized a celebration for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender students at Giovanni’s in Isla Vista last night.
Samuel Santos, director of LGBTQ Resources at UCSB, said he believes the ruling demonstrates progress toward equality and social justice for the gay population on campus and at large.
“I think it’s an important step forward for families of all kinds… especially in the state of California, where we consider ourselves more progressive and forward thinking,” Santos said. “It’s been an issue for me for as long as I can remember.”
Gloria Schindler, social chair of the Queer Student Union, said the court’s ruling sets a positive precedent for other states to follow.
“I feel that two people in a committed, loving, trusting relationship should have the right and deserve the dignity and support that comes with marriage,” said Schindler, a third-year women’s studies and law & society major. “For those states that have not yet legalized same sex marriage – they’re just hindering the ‘equality for all’ that our nation is supposed to stand for.”
Jennie Beeson, a fourth-year political science major and LGBTQ minor, said that although she is content with the legislation, more urgent issues still face the gay community.
“There are a lot of people in the community for whom marriage is not the top priority,” Beeson said. “It’s not that it’s not a great thing – I think there’s probably a lot of people very excited – but from an activist’s standpoint, there are a lot more pressing issues.”
While the new decision has been a cause for celebration for many, Santos said it is just another battle won in the long fight for equality in the LGBTQ community.
“For me, [marriage is] something I’m not going to rush out and do tomorrow – it’s more about this being a step forward on the road to equality,” Santos said. “I’m more concerned with a broader social justice agenda, and I don’t think that this, in and of itself, means that LGBT people have social equality in SB, California or the world.”
Meanwhile, at the courthouse downtown, a crowd of approximately 100 spectators listened to speeches from elected officials and several community outreach organizations. Speakers included Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and representatives from the offices of assembly member Pedro Nava, Congresswoman Lois Capps and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf.
David Selberg, the executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation, opened the press conference by lauding the California Supreme Court ruling as a step toward dismantling inequality.
“The separate-but-equal philosophy is not equal by any means,” Selberg said. “California is now a state where everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.”
Executive Director of Just Communities Jared Schwartz said the Supreme Court’s decision is a victory the queer community should share with the rest of the population.
“My happiness and stability doesn’t have to come at the cost of another,” Schwartz said. “Love – not gender – is at the core of a relationship.”
Although the court’s ruling mandates that same-sex couples should be able to marry in as little as 30 days, some partners recognize that it may take longer. Allison and Lauren Wyeth, UCSB alumni and parents of two young boys, said they will wait for the legal storm to die down before getting married.
“We want to see how things end up, as far as practicality,” Allison Wyeth said.
Also present at the courthouse were several members of the religious community, including Reverend Mark Asman of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara. Asman said the gay and lesbian community should not merely celebrate the victory, but commemorate the work of past activists.
“We stand on the shoulders of women and men who have fought for us,” Asman said. “It’s not enough for us to just be happy today; we need to get organized.”