SoCal Same-Sex Marriage Pioneers Renew Vows

Friday, Feb 13, 2009  |  Updated 1:15 PM PDT
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SoCal Same-Sex Marriage Pioneers Renew Vows

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Feb. 13, 2009: Robin Tyler (left) and Diane Olson (right), the first two women to be legally married in Southern California, renew their wedding vows on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse.

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- On the eve of Valentine's Day, the first two women to be legally married in a Southern California same-sex wedding ceremony renewed their vows in Beverly Hills on Friday as part of "Freedom to Marry Day."

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson were married on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse on June 16, making them the first same-sex couple in Southern California to be wed following the state Supreme Court's ruling striking down a state law that banned gay unions.

Beginning in 2001, Tyler and Olson went to the Beverly Hills Courthouse every February requesting a marriage license, only to be denied.

Although they were legally married last year, they went back to Beverly Hills today to push for the reversal of Proposition 8, which was passed by California voters on Nov. 4 and amends the state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Tyler and Olson, who were lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to strike down the same-sex marriage ban last year, have filed a petition with the high court again, seeking to have Proposition 8 overturned. The California Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case -- and several related court petitions -- on March 5.

Tyler said that after the court makes its decision, same-sex couples and their supporters will be out in force -- win or lose.

"We will be back on the streets, and hopefully it will be celebrating," Tyler told the crowd gathered as she and Olson renewed their vows. "And if not, you will see more lesbian and gays and bisexuals and our friends on the street than in the history of the United States."

A wedding cake at the ceremony was decorated with a message for the Supreme Court reading, "Our hearts are in your hands."

"If Prop 8 stands, it will be the first time in American history that a group of people will be taken out of a constitution, and that is unacceptable," Olson said.

"I believe the (state) Supreme Court will invalidate Prop 8. Why would they rule for a measure that makes the Supreme Court obsolete if a small majority will be able to overrule the Supreme Court's decisions?"

Proposition 8 was approved by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent,

Eight years ago, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in California. But in May, the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against gays, and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples got married in the months that followed.
 
Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly got Proposition 8 on the ballot.

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has also petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. Brown noted that in the ruling overturning Proposition 22, the court found that the constitution guarantees that the right to marry cannot be denied to same-sex couples.

In their court papers, proponents of the measure attacked the view of opponents that Proposition 8 represents a radical change of the constitution that should have been required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

"But that portrayal is wildly wrong," proponents state in their court papers. "Proposition 8 is limited in nature and effect. It does nothing more than restore the definition of marriage to what it was and always had been under California law before June 16, 2008 -- and to what the people had repeatedly willed that it be throughout California's history."

They argue that the measure is not vague, but is written in clear, plain language and should invalidate any same-sex marriages that have been performed in the last several months. Brown has argued that the same-sex marriages that have been performed should remain valid.

Meanwhile, in East Los Angeles, same-sex couples who want to be married began requesting marriage licenses at a county office on East Cesar Chavez Avenue while their families, friends and other supporters rallied in support, according to event organizers.

The rally, sponsored by a group called Somos Familia, was organized as part of Marriage Equality's National Freedom to Marry Week.

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