History leading to same-sex marriage

May 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Back to 2000, California voters passed a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However supporters of same-sex marriage say a lot's happened over the past eight years. There are signs, they believe, that gay marriage is more in line with the values of a growing number of California voters.

After the California Supreme Court ruling, Judy Appel and Alison Bernstein are starting to think about wedding plans. The Berkeley couple, who have two children, have been together for 16 years.

"More and more people know us and have come to accept us. I think it has become less of a big deal and people are more and more accepting to us as family and I think as a couple," said Judy Appel.

Those who would oppose their marriage argue that Proposition 22 is the law. That 2000 initiative declared only a man and woman could wed.

"The Supreme Court just abrogates the entire rights and privileges of the legislature as well as the people of the state of California," said Assembly member Chuck Devore (R) of Irvine.

"So much has changed in the last eight years and sometimes the court has to take the step forward. That's what courts are for," said Alison Bernstein.

Since Prop 22 passed, the state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. Gay sensibilities have become more mainstream. The T.V. show 'Will and Grace" was a hit. Ellen Degeneres didn't suffer in popularity after she came out.

Scott Vachon of the Pacific Center in Berkeley says the media have had a tremendous impact.

"The more that we engage the community at large, the more people understand we are like everybody else and we deserve the same level of respect and opportunity," said Scott Vachon, from The Pacific Center.

Before Thursday night's commencement exercises for Cal Berkeley's Gender and Women's Studies, the department chairperson addressed the changes in society.

"There are far more children now in California and other states who have out gay and lesbian parents who live in a variety of family forms," said Prof. Barrie Thorne Ph.D., Chair of the Gender and Women's Studies Department.

Still, it's still a matter of debate.

"I think being homosexual is fine. To each his own. That's what I believe. But when it comes to marriage, I disagree," said Ken Rollins from Union City.

Despite Thursday's ruling, the political fight is not over yet with supporters of gay marriage saying if there's a new inchoative they have faith voters will agree with the Supreme Court and opponents claim Californians will not accept same sex marriage.


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