Friday, May 16, 2008

A Triumph for Human Rights in California

The State Supreme Court of California deserves the highest praise for overturning California laws banning same-sex marriage in a 4-3 ruling. It was a bold move and it has already provoked resistance. Even before the ink dried on the majority opinion, foes of the ruling vowed to struggle for a constitutional amendment that would make the court's decision moot. But gays and lesbians all over California -- and indeed, across the country --are celebrating this ruling as a great triumph. They have good reason to be hopeful. The ruling has already emboldened gay and lesbian rights groups to battle same-sex marriage bans in other states. Newspapers across the country carried headlines predicting that other states would feel the ripples from the California State Supreme Court ruling, and advocacy groups are poised to file more lawsuits. But there will be fierce resistance from social conservatives who can't stand the thought of gays and lesbians enjoying the right to marry like everyone else.

The engine of change has been started, however, and once it is going, it is impossible to stop. A gay 59-year-old African American man named Albert Reese, who gathered with thousands of other people in San Francisco to celebrate the ruling, rightfully compared it to the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Reese told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, "I didn't think this would happen. I have no plans to get married anytime soon, but it's nice to have the option to make it legal - with all the rights of heterosexual couples ... and I think it's only appropriate that it was announced in San Francisco."

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