California court decision paves way for same-gender marriage equality [VIDEO]
Written by J. Bennett Guess May 15, 2008
Four years after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom briefly permitted same-gender marriages in his city in open defiance of a statewide ban, the California Supreme Court finally weighed in on the matter today by overturning the voter-approved measure and paving the way for California to become the second state, behind Massachusetts, where same-gender marriage is legal.
The court said the state's law "limiting the designation of marriage to a man and a woman is unconstitutional."
In the 120-page ruling, the court concluded, "There can be no doubt that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples, rather than denying it to all couples, is the equal protection remedy that is most consistent with our state's general legislative policy and preference."
The Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, said he is pleased by the court's decision.
"I am gratified by the decision of the courts in California to reject discrimination and affirm the dignity of same gender couples," Thomas said. "As recent decisions in other states makes clear, until all couples are able to marry, their separate status will never be equal status."
The Rev. Art Cribbs, pastor of San Marino (Calif.) UCC, speaks at celebration following court ruling.
After the court decision was announced, several UCC members in California responded positively to the news.
"As both a gay man and a Christian church professional, I am thrilled that the California Supreme Court has had the wisdom to recognize that we all should have the rights and responsibilities that go along with being married," said Phil Porter, minister of art and communication at First Congregational UCC in Berkeley, Calif. "My church would conduct a ceremony for my partner and I any time I might choose, but how glorious that it might now even stand up in court!"
"Because of the positive ruling today in California, progress continues," Johnson said. "Marriage equality for all continues our historical progress toward recognizing that love and responsibility are the keys to quality marriages, not unfair laws based on racial integrity, which were struck down in 1967 but remained in some states until 2000, and sexual orientation, like we have now."
In 2005, the UCC General Synod overwhelmingly affirmed a resolution in support of same-gender marriage equality, urging its congregations "to prayerfully consider and support local, station and national legislation to grant equal marriage rights to couples regardless of gender." As a result of the Synod's 2005 action, it too became a signatory in the brief before the California court.
The UCC has 244 churches and 36,000 members in California.
The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, the UCC's minister for LGBT concerns in Cleveland, said, "Marriage is about relationships, and the movement toward marriage equality has come in large measure because same-gender, loving relationships have been made increasingly real and visible."