I first met San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the halls of KGO Radio before one of my shows. We did the "Wow, you're handsome..." (me) and "I love your show..." (him) and then I told him that I thought what he did by giving out marriage licenses did more to hurt us than help us (the gays) because right afterwards 11 states voted to ban gay marriage in some way or other.
Mayor Newsom, I was wrong. I apologize. This morning, May 15, 2008 at 10am, when the California State Supreme Court said nope, no reason to ban gay marriage in California that we can see, I cried. I cried for all those in my community that were happy today. I cried because having fought to be recognized as a couple myself and changing the only laws we had at the time, AB 25 and AB 205 that granted SOME rights, changing them to recognize those that had wrongful death cases pending before the legislation, well, today was my victory also, Andrew Howard's victory (my late partner).
And it is. Andrew and I were the first gay couple on drive time radio on KFI Los Angeles. It was a big deal. Hasn't been done since, either, anywhere on talk radio to my knowledge. When he died, I saw marriage equality. Thousands of straight couples emailed in grief to say they felt as we were part of their marriage, and that we represented a normal couple to them. That's marriage equality. When the courts told me I couldn't sue, I said yes I can (when he died) and then did after changing law. That got media coverage and told people that the legislature and the courts favored granting rights to gays and lesbians.
Then Gavin made his decision, right or wrong, to grant licenses. And in the aftermath, yes, some bigoted states allowed their people and legislatures to put bigotry in their state codes. But this state, my state, Gavin's state, did the right thing. And as a jaded gay male of 45 years, I didn't expect it to. That's why I've stated I'm all for Civil Unions with the exact same benefits of marriage. So, I'm all for marriage, but with a different name. Why? Because I believe that's what is nationally obtainable in the short term why states fight out the marriage issue.
However, I'd be lying if I said today didn't feel good. Because while I would settle for Domestic Partnership, there's no reason for it. It's contract law, marriage, that's all it is, contract law. And just like you can't stop a person from entering a contract because they're black, Hispanic, a woman, etc., then you can't stop someone from entering the marriage contract based on gender. It's horrible for lawyers and judges, because in their legal hearts they know same sex marriage must be legal and available for all the couples that want it. But in their moral or religious hearts the vision gets cloudy. That's why we turn to the courts, to uncloud things. And when they do, as in today's case, they see that the law is in fact the law.
But those that oppose are hot and ready. In November California will again be asked if the Constitution should be changed to ban gay marriage. Great, another humiliating fight about our unions. But this time, perhaps cooler heads will prevail and voters will realize the economy is in crap, the war is raging, America is aging... we've got more problems than who is marrying whom. Maybe for once the opposition will look silly.
And while the Governor has vetoed same sex marriage twice here in California, he has also said he wanted the courts to act, and they have today. His new opinion is yet to be heard, but he now has the mandate of the Supreme Court and the road to legalization has, in fact, been opened.
And all around a case centered around an act that I did not want to happen. I was wrong. Because while Newsom may have caused a backlash nationally, in the state that is the eighth largest economy in the world, our courts again have spoken and shown that some states can get it right. Today, California did. Now, if this causes another backlash in this election, so be it.
Activist judges? Yes, they actively enforced the letter and spirit of contract law and the equal protection clauses there under. But they get the final word. This case did not challenge federal law or federal Constitutional issues, only State, so no appeal to the U.S. Supreme. This is it, the court has ruled in California for California.
I could be cynical, but today is a historic day for the state, and for me, personally. My late husband, Andrew Howard, would be proud, and yes, would be complaining already about how, "I suppose this means you want a big wedding, but no way! We're going to do it my way!" I would say I'm sad we never got to take advantage of this, but we were as married as any couple and his death helped this happen. So it's with pride instead of sorrow I think of him today.
Pride. This weekend May 17 and 18th is Long Beach, CA Gay Pride. It's the season of Pride Events in the United States, May through August. And for the first time in many, many years, gays and lesbians have a real landmark decision to celebrate. I hope they all remember that as they are out there in their leather and lace.
Gavin Newsom, you won a victory for a community of which you are not a part, but in which you have a vested interest as you have many GLBT constituents. You thought of your city and its residents and took a step that changed everything in the state for my community. You have my thank you. You have thousands. I was wrong, it matters.
Now, unless California falls in to the ocean or has horrendous natural disasters, the right wingers will have to come up with something new as to why this is horrible. Unless straight men begin defecting and marrying gay men en masse and the population growth grows to zero, unless housewives now all want to marry Ellen, society should be fine. And all the whoopla? Well, passes, like the hot air gases of which it is comprised.
Yup, those left wing liberals out in California went and legalized marriage for all those fags. Thank God. I have never been more proud of my state, ever.
It may not last, but it feels good right now and in these days, we take the little victories where we can.
Follow Charles Karel Bouley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/therealkarel