Just hours after the Prop 8 announcement, Voices caught up with longtime couple Ted Kresel (left) and Jack Corbett (right) at a store in West Hollywood to talk about the implications of the decision on their lives, relationship and for California as a whole. They traveled to Portland, Ore., to marry but the license was nullified by the California law.
By Elizabeth Gyori
Nadia Chayka, second from left, and her fiance Luke Otterstad, second from right, both proponents of Proposition 8, stand alongside Ron Weaver, left, and Billy Bradford, right, both opponents of Proposition 8, outside of the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010. The first word on whether California's same-sex marriage ban can survive scrutiny under the U.S. Constitution is expected to come down Wednesday when a federal judge issues his ruling in a landmark case challenging the voter-approved Proposition 8 as an unlawful infringement on the civil rights of gay men and lesbians. Attorneys on both sides have said appeals are certain if Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker does not rule in their favor. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Los Angeles and the AAJA Convention was all abuzz once news that a federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California.
The decision, issued in San Francisco by Judge Vaughn R. Walker, is a temporary victory for gay-rights advocates in what looks to be a long legal battle. Proponents of Prop. 8 have said that they will appeal the decision to higher courts.
But more than 300 miles away at the AAJA Convention, many members who are also part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community expressed joy and relief about the decision.
“I hope for one day we can get married just like anyone else,” said Paul Cheung, Associated Press interactive and graphics editor. “I mean, we’re not any different than anyone else in a long-term committed relationship.”
A longtime member of AAJA and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Cheung believes true equality is not just about race but about factors such as sexual orientation and socio-economic class.
“We’ve come a long way but there are a lot more (roads) we need to pave. So, I think, with this decision, it’s the first step,” he said.
Romey Louangvilay, a freelance writer for FIGHT! Magazine, said the decision not only personally affects him because he is gay, but also two of his friends who have been involved in a gay relationship since high school. He hopes they will be able to get married one day.
Several AAJA members sent tweets once they heard the news. Television reporter Lisa Ling posted: “Happy for my gay friends today. Love reigns.”
At a West Hollywood community center, Joseph Lee took a break from posting signs for a forthcoming AIDS march to talk about the excitement the decision has sparked in the gay community. He heard the news after seeing the avalanche of tweets online.
“They’re going crazy on Twitter world. They’re really excited,” Lee said. “I feel like celebrating, jumping in the streets.”
The decision had big ramifications on his personal life. If he and his boyfriend are able to get married, it could open a world of opportunities for their life together, he said.
“You can’t help who you fall in love with,” Lee said. “Let’s have some summer weddings. I might even get married now.”
Restaurants, bars and stores in the area are offering complimentary or discount drinks, food and merchandise in the wake of this win for the gay community.
Sur Restaurant in West Hollywood offered a “Pink Prop. 8 Cocktail” for $5 Wednesday in honor of the overturned ban, while Dan Deutsch Optical Outlook handed out free beer and cocktails for Happy Hour.
Organizations that have worked to overturn Prop. 8, such as Equality California, a gay-rights group that filed an amicus curiae brief for the overturn of the ban, also rejoiced.
“We want to take time today to celebrate this really encouraging win ’cause it really just shows that gay and lesbian couples and families are really getting the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Mike Ai, an Equality California organizer.
A rally scheduled Wednesday, sponsored by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, were attended by about 1,000 people at West Hollywood Park for a march to downtown Los Angeles.
“I am elated that Judge Vaughn Walker has overturned the same-sex marriage ban in California,” said Don Chareunsy, AAJA Governing Board member and at-large representative for the AAJA Advisory Board. “My gay brothers and sisters are not asking for special rights, only equal rights. The fight isn’t over, but it is a big step in the right direction.”
Voices staff writers Peter Sessum and Pimpan Jongchirawongsa contributed to this story.