LANCASTER – The local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community and allies held a rally in Lancaster Wednesday evening (June 26) to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings that cleared the way for gay marriage to resume in California.
The crowd of more than 100 supporters spread out on the four corners of 15th Street West and Avenue K with colorful flags, signs and banners. Passing motorists honked their horns and waved as the crowd cheered and chanted, “This is what equality looks like!”
“The fact that all of us can be equal and the fact that we can all share in the same civil rights is all we’re asking for, and so this is a huge step for us,” said Gina Piellusch. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re so glad the day is finally here.”
The U. S. Supreme Court Wednesday morning struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states.
“Justice Kennedy specifically refers to the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment, which means that he specifically is stating that gay people and their marriages have to be treated the same as straight people and their marriages. This means we’re not inferior and there is no religious implication that we’re sinners and don’t have the same rights,” said Sue Dell.
In another win for gay rights advocates in California, the high court determined that California’s proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage was not properly before them, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the lower court’s striking down of the law. This effectively cleared the way for same sex marriages to resume in California.
“Everyone in California has equal rights now as it pertains to marriage,” said Katy Nelsen. “We try to support parents, friends and families of lesbians and gays and having this validate them and validate their marriages will make that so much easier for us.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings are especially meaningful to the Antelope Valley community, because it is such a conservative area, supporters said.
“We were here about this time last year doing a rally against homophobia, because in Lancaster there were some hate crimes and there was graffiti spray painted on a few of the local buildings,” said Craig Cincis, “and to be here today celebrating the fact that we can get married is huge. I was crying my eyes out all day and celebrating because I didn’t think this would happen as soon as it did.”
Even as they celebrate, gay rights advocates say there is still more work to be done for the LGBTQ community.
“There are still 37 states that do not have any same sex unions or marriage available for couples,” said Mario Vasquez. “We’re not done until all states have full marriage equality.”
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Previous related story: High court clears way for same-sex marriage in CA, residents to rally