The city of San Francisco can breathe a collective sigh of relief this afternoon. After a months-long, ugly duel over Prop. 8, the District Court Judge Vaughn Walker (a gay man himself) ruled the measure unconstitutional under due-process and equal protection clauses.
But we're not out of the dark yet. As the SF Chronicle wrote today before the ruling, the tireless Prop. 8 advocates are already planning to take the case to the US Supreme Court, and are asking California's legislature to keep the ban on gay marriage in place while they appeal. Details of the 136-page decision are still changing hands, but New York Magazine reported these two crucial sentences explaining the verdict:
"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples"
Now that's sound logic. Judge Walker went on to say, "California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result."
Photographer Frankie Frankeny and her wife, Chloe Harris Frankeny (both of whom contribute to 7x7) are one of the lucky 18,000 couples who are legally married in California. They are also founders of justmarried.us, a website that chronicles the struggle for marriage equality in America. I reached Frankeny at her studio just after the verdict was delivered.
"It's a pretty happy day knowing the Constitution is on our side," said Frankeny. "It feels really good to have the state recognize how heinous and hurtful Prop. 8 was, so we will definitely be celebrating in our hearts tonight."
Frankeny hopes that marriage ceremonies for gays can begin again as soon as possible, despite the current stay on same-sex ceremonies. And the next step? Federal rights for all married gay couples.
"We're married in California, but Chloé and I are both from Texas," she said. "We want to be federally recognized when we go home, we want the same rights as those in our families who are married. Right now, we don't have the important rights and respect that come with [conventional] marriage."
Thankfully, we live in the best city to celebrate this milestone. It's safe to say it's time to toast the demise of Prop. 8 tonight!