Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Let’s talk about it!

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

The do’s and don’ts on marriage for gay and lesbian couples

When Americans vote on Nov 4, 2008, Californians will also be asked if they agree to Proposition 8 or not. Also known as the Protect Marriage Act, Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2008 that authorized the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. To vote YES to Proposition 8 is to ban same sex marriage and maintain the Family Code that explicitly defines the union of a man and a woman as the only valid or recognizable form of marriage in the State of California. To vote NO is to uphold the controversial Supreme Court decision and agree to legalize same-sex marriage.

Over the coming weeks leading to the election, we can expect Californians to encounter a lot of propaganda by gay rights organizations as well as by proponents of Proposition 8 to try to sway their votes. What are both sides saying?

I Do support marriage of same-sex couples

Recently, a television commercial and a series of print ads were launched to open hearts and minds about the issues involved when same-sex couples marry. Called Let California Ring, the public education campaign addresses the public’s concerns and conflicts about marriage and same-sex couples. It builds a better understanding of the everyday challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians face, and encourages dialogue through individual and public conversations about ways to end exclusion.

Over 50 diverse organizations have come together in the Let California Ring Campaign. They hope that the campaign will be able to engage people to talk about the freedom to marry and to build public support for gay marriage.

“I dreamed of seeing my son get married,” said Sylvia Castro-Adams. “Now that California law finally allows them to marry, Paul and Max seized the opportunity. I’m so happy they’re married; it gives me great comfort to know my son will be taken care of by someone who loves him, no matter what. I want to honor and celebrate Max and Paul’s love and commitment just as we do for all the loving couples in our family. So, we’re planning a big reception, with all the family together.”

In a recent collective editorial brainstorming session in LA organized by New American Media (NAM), a PR practitioner from San Francisco named Robert spoke of other stories of love and commitment. “The first couple who married in June 16, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, has been together for 55 years. Del died Aug 27. Her last great act was finally marrying the person she has loved for over 50 years. This is why people care so passionately about this issue. How would you feel if you can’t marry the person you love? How would you feel if the government told you, you can’t marry the person you love,” Robert said.

Sandy Close, NAM executive director, said that the gay community wants society to talk about their plight, and to understand and support them. The main message of Let California Ring is that “as California’s gay and lesbian couples marry, their families grow stronger. And what’s good for families is good for our communities. Strong commitments make for strong families and strong communities.”

I Don’t support marriage of same-sex couples

Those who are opposed to gay and lesbian marriages believe that the union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and legalizing gay marriages could undermine the family.

Bishop Oscar Solis of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles stands by what Pope Benedict has stated—that the Roman Catholic Church denounces homosexual behavior but calls for empathy and compassion for gays and lesbians. The Church teaches that the inclination toward homosexuality is not necessarily a sin; it can be considered a tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. However, as Pope Benedict said, “a person engaging in homosexual behavior acts immorally,” because he feels that sex is only good if framed in the stance of being for procreation between a married man and woman. Currently, the Roman Catholic Church has strict limitations on allowing homosexuals to become members of the clergy, and it also continues to fight the legal recognition of homosexual couples

Many other Christian denominations reject same-sex marriage because several verses in the Bible denounce it, like in Romans 1:26-27: That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.”

Asked to comment on the question of many gays about “how would you feel if the government tells you that you can’t marry the person you love?,” Pastor Mark Briones of Word International Ministries- Los Angeles stated that, “It’s not a question of what people wish or desire. It’s an issue of what God says is right or wrong. Since I believe the Bible is God’s Word and it says homosexual relationships are wrong, then I cannot support gay marriage.”   (www.asianjournal.com)

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Poll shows Californians favor same sex marriage

by Joseph Pimentel AJPress
LOS ANGELES—The percentage of Californians opposing a constitutional amendment that would reinstate a ban on same-sex marriages have grown over the past year, according to the Field Poll, an independent and nonpartisan organization.

The surveys latest finding released on September 18 revealed that 55 percent of Californians opposed while 38 percent favored Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage on the November election ballot. In May, the Field Poll’s first survey on the subject found that 51 percent had opposed the proposition. During the same time, an LA Times/ KTLA poll found that 54 percent of California residents favored the ban on same sex marriages.

“During the past two months, voter opposition has increased toward Proposition 8,” said Mark De Camillo and Mervin Field, the researchers of the poll.

The Field Poll’s recent findings show that voters are keen on this issue. The report found that 70 percent of voters have “heard something about Proposition 8.”

De Camillo said that the survey found that preferences on Proposition 8 divide sharply by party, ideology, region, religion and educational status of the voter.

The report revealed that Democrats oppose the initiative nearly four to one. Republicans are in favor of the ballot initiative by almost a three to one margin. Meanwhile, a majority (56 percent) of non-partisans are lining up on the No side.

The survey found that 57 percent of voters living in coastal counties or touching the San Francisco Bay are opposed to Proposition 8. By contrast, voters living in inland counties are closely divided (44 percent Yes vs. 48 percent No).

The poll also revealed that 52 percent of Protestants favor the bill. Catholics (55 percent) and those affiliated with other religions oppose the bill. The findings in the report are based on a random sample survey of 830 likely voters in California.

However, those favoring Proposition 8 are wary of the recent Field Poll survey.

“Recent polls published by California media outlets claim that Proposition 8 to restore marriage in California as between a man and a woman, is trailing among voters. These polls, including the Field Poll released this week, suffer from the same historic problem that other polls on this subject around the country have had: they do not accurately reflect the true support for traditional marriage,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for ProtectMarriage.com in a statement. “For example, the Field Poll showed that support for Proposition 22 in 2000 was at 53 percent right before the election, yet over 61 percent of voters supported the proposition.”

Anti-Proposition 8 supporters have already been lining up to defeat the ballot measure.

Earlier this week, actor Brad Pitt announced he’s donating $100,000 to fight the November initiative.

“Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn’t harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8,” said Pitt in a statement published in the LA Times.

With the November election only two months away, expect Proposition 8 supporters and oppositions to make a strong push about their case. (www.asianjournal.com)

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California Allows Same-Sex Marriage

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court ruled out on Thursday, May 15, that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting State marriage laws as discriminatory. California has followed the State of Massachusetts as the second state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

The SC Justices, voting 4-3, in a decision penned by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, ruled that “excluding access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couples or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by marriage statutes. That will simply make the benefits of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children.”

“The exclusion of the same-sex couples in the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children,” the Justices wrote. “No one is hurt by allowing same-sex couples to marry; instead same-sex couples and their children will be getting the same benefits that everybody else enjoys in the state. No more, no less.”

Fairness and Equality

“Today, our Supreme Court has acted in accordance with the great California traditions of fairness and equality, of live and let live. The California Supreme Court had the integrity and the courage to do its job and say that all Californians are entitled to equal protection of the law,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood. “All but one was appointed by Republican governors. And today, that moderate court did exactly what it is supposed to do.”

“It’s been four hard years, but with persistence, strategic thinking, and fearless determination, we’ve succeeded,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, and co-counsel on this case. He thanked the support that he received from more than 500 groups from the state of California “who submitted briefs to the court, asking them to uphold the freedom to marry, including the NAACP, MALDEF and APALC.”

“Today’s a historic day. I think future generations will look back to today’s decision as a landmark decision for fairness and equality,” Davidson added.

Long overdue

The long-awaited court decision stemmed from the city of San Francisco’s highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights. After a month of jubilant same-sex weddings in San Francisco, the California Supreme Court intervened and ordered city officials to stop issuing licenses to gay couples, and later invalidated the documents and declined to address the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage until lower courts acted first.

Last September, a broad coalition of over 60 local, state, and national Asian American organizations filed a groundbreaking amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Marriage Cases, a case before the California SC challenging the state’s marriage statute. The Asian American organizations sought to support basic fairness for same-sex couples and their families, drawing from parallel discriminatory efforts targeting the Asian American community, including past struggle of Asian Americans with marriage discrimination in California.

“We are thrilled by today’s landmark victory. Now our fight will be to preserve this win in November, where there will likely be an initiative to overturn this breakthrough,” said Karin Wang, API Equality-LA steering committee member and vice president of programs at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

“I am truly excited that a Filipino can marry other gay people,” opined Noel Alumit, 40, a FilAm community organizer with the Make Arts/Stop AIDS at University of California, Los Angeles.

“This is an incredible right that the Philippines could not have. That is why my family is here. My family brought us here so that we could follow our dreams,” Alumit added.

Proud Californian

“Today, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Californian,” said Mayor Villaraigosa at a press conference held at the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood, a couple of hours after the ruling came down. “I couldn’t be prouder of the California Supreme Court – whose shift 60 years ago, in a landmark decision – ruled that you couldn’t discriminate on marriage based on race. We are now leading the way once again, and here in California same-sex couples can marry; that it’s a fundamental right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Not yet over

The ruling is not likely to end the debate over gay marriage in California. Even before the ruling was handed down, conservative groups have been circulating petitions to put an initiative in the November 2008 elections that would seek to amend California’s Constitution to block same-sex marriage. Before Thursday’s ruling, gay rights lawyers predicted that a victory in the California Supreme Court would help them defeat the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which the lawyers predicted could qualify for the November ballot. The California Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democrat.

“What is important about this decision is that not only is it historic – what is important is it goes into effect in 30 days, and basically that means that gay people who have been longtime partners who wanted to be married, who haven’t been able to get married, will be able to go out and do it,” said Tori Osborne, senior adviser to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Center.

“It looks as if the conservatives are going to call for a marriage ballot initiative in the November (2008) ballot,” Osborne said, “but it would be much harder to the people of California – who are fair-minded and good – to take away this right once they see people actually line up and get married.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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State Supreme Court to Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Ericson Herbas, a FilAm graphic artist originally from Makati City, has something in common with lawyers Doreena Wong, a Chinese-American, and Jennifer C. Pizer, a Jewish-American. All of them are currently in a same-sex relationship. In a few weeks – late May or early June – a ruling by the California Supreme Court on the issue of marriage equality will have an impact on the lives of these three Californians. Depending on which side the SC ruling tilts, it would spell either the end of their quest or a validation of a shared advocacy.

On September 27, 2007, a team of Asian American attorneys and advocates in Los Angeles and San Francisco filed a legal brief with the State Supreme Court in support of equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Two of those lawyers were Doreena Wong and Jennifer C. Pizer, who have been in a same-sex relationship for fourteen years.

The amicus (friend of the court) brief was filed in the consolidated Marriage Cases currently pending with the state SC. These consolidated cases are historic lawsuits urging the California courts to end the exclusion of loving and committed samesex couples from marriage. These couples have asked the courts to “hold that the State’s current law denying lesbian and gay persons the freedom to marry violates the Constitution’s guaranty of equality.”

The amicus brief also had sought to support basic fairness for same-sex couples and their families, drawing from the Asian community’s own past struggle with marriage discrimination in the State of California.

“One of the hallmarks of California’s legal history is that there were explicit laws in the State – just about one hundred years ago – that specifically singled out Asian immigrants for discrimination,” said Karin Wang, Vice President for Programs of Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) at a press briefing on Tuesday, April 22.

The reason for that, according to Wang, was that in the past, California employed predominantly Asian immigrants – men who were brought to California as laborers: Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans and Japanese, who worked in the fields and in railroad construction. “There was a fear of Asians marrying white women and having children that were not white,” Wang said.

Lawyer Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal, said that it was very inspiring to be a part of this historic advocacy to rewrite California marriage laws, but she was cautious about making a prediction how the State SC ruling would go down. She offered four scenarios: “We will win because the SC judges would agree that the state’s marriage law violates the constitution of the State of California,” Pizer offered. “Number two: The State SC would say there is a violation and rule that the State legislature rectify the error, like what Massachusetts did in 2003 and 2004. We hope that this logic would influence the Legislature to rectify the error.”

The third scenario would be that the state SC decides the state Constitution should grant equal rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples and let the Legislature find a way to amend the state constitution; and the fourth would be that the state SC rules the Constitution should guaranty equality, but may propose a ballot initiative to be approved by California voters.

Pizer said that there are some ultra-conservative groups in the state that are working to put an initiative in the November elections. “They have been working since 2004 to get enough signatures, but Californians are not particularly interested to get this issue in a ballot measure,” Pizer said. “The big question mark is whether they (the ultra-conservatives) could muster enough signatures.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate conservative, had announced he would not support it. “It would require a lot of work,” Pizer admitted.

“People don’t understand domestic relationships,” said Doreena Wong, Co-Chair of Asian Pacific Islander Equality LA (www.apiequlityla.org). “Legal recognition means that we will be accepted and publicly acknowledged,” she said. “When we (Jennifer) and I bought a house together, my father wanted to make sure that the house had two separate bedrooms,” Wong related.

Ericson Herbas immigrated to the US at age 11. “I discovered that I was different at 16, living with a Filipino Catholic family in Daly City,” Herbas said. He has moved down to Los Angeles and works as a graphic designer with Latham and Wetting Law Office in Los Angeles and a Board Member of Gay Asian Pacific Support Network (GAPSN).

“When my mom asked me, ‘Are you gay?’ I said yes!” Herbas recalls. “My father cried and did not talk to me for three weeks,” Herbas said, recalling how his sexual orientation got discovered. “I was afraid of getting kicked out because I was only 19 then,” he said. “Father said that we should stick together because we are a small family, and my mother said ‘you’re my son and I love you’. What big relief,” he blurted.

Herbas told Asian Journal that he had started dating again, three years after he moved down to Los Angeles, leaving a boyfriend in San Francisco. “I sometimes underestimate my parents and how they can be very understanding,” Herbas said.

Says Andy Marra, a transgender and Media Strategists of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD): “This is not just a gay issue; this is also an Asian American issue. Nationwide, there are 38,000 Asian Pacific samesex households.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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