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Gay Fil-Ams Welcome Legal Unions

Philippine News, News Report, Lance Cardozo Dwyer Posted: May 29, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO May 15, 2008 will go down as a monumental day in American history, though its significance will mean different things to many different people. It is the day that the California Supreme Court voted 4-3 to allow same-sex couples in the state to marry. The ramifications of this decision will be vast, but as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pointed out, At the end of the day, this is about real lives.

A couple standing outside San Franciso City Hall held up a sign saying Shelly and Ellen, Together 34 years, Married in SF. They are one couple of the estimated thousands in California whose lives would be impacted by the Supreme Court decision.

In an impromptu press conference held shortly after the ruling was announced, Newsom entered the City Hall Rotunda room to cheers of Gavin! Gavin! coming from hundreds of excited political supporters and San Francisco residents who gathered to hear what the mayor had to say about the groundbreaking legal change he had helped influence more than four years ago. As he took the podium, Newsom raised his arms in the air and said What a day for San Francisco! What a day for California! What a day for the United States!

For Elaine Kamlley, a 25-year-old queer Filipina, the same-sex marriage ruling was exciting news, but was just one victory towards a greater goal of equality.As much as I feel we should have the right to marry I do believe the queer community has more important agenda to work towards, she said. Kamlley cited violence towards the LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) community and a high suicide rate for LGBT youth as some of the issues that were more pressing than same-sex marriage. But she doesa acknolwedge that this new right afforded to her community could be a stepping stone towards fighting stigma.

I do feel like its going to help normalize queer relationships in terms of legitimizing us as parents and couples in general, said Kamlley. But I dont think it will happen for a long time. I still think itll be a controversial issue for 10-20 years but its a jumping off point.

Darel Ayap, 26, represents a group of people slightly more excited about the ruling than Kamlley, though the impact for her is different as a Filipina transgender woman.

Prior to the ruling, transgender women who wanted to get married to a male had to have gender reassignment surgery and change their sex on their birth certificate. As what is considered in the community as non-op or pre-op, meaning she has not had gender reassignment surgery, Ayap can now get married under California law even without ever changing her gender on her birth certificate. Getting the operation is not an option for me, and since my partner is male we now have an option of getting married, its exciting, said Ayap.

As people like Kamlley and Ayap were celebrating, the opposition wasted no time in forming their response. Various organizations across the state, including many conservative Christian churches, hit the streets and gathered a reported one million signatures supporting a proposition to be placed on the November election that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. If the majority of voters support the proposition, the California Supreme Court decision would be nullified.

The possibility of having a right taken away would not be an unfamiliar disappointment to many gay couples in San Francisco. In February of 2004, Newsom had authorized San Francisco City Hall to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, only to have the nearly 4000 licenses issued nullified six months later by the California Supreme Court.

Donovan Ramos, 22, hopes that the conservative right will rethink its efforts, and is optimistic about what will happen in November. Now that we have the State Supreme Court supporting gay marriages, it will be an easier fight when voting comes around in November because it is an issue worth fighting for, he said.In the end, though the California Supreme Court has spoken, the people of California may get one more chance to make their voice heard on this issue in November.

A hopeful Ayap thinks that along with her LGBT community, enough allies will go to the polls to uphold the historic ruling. Im very optimistic just because it goes beyond our community now, she said. I trust that here in California its not only a matter of mobilizing our community. I think as a state were ready to be affirming of LGBT identities and really believing in equal rights.

Related Articles:

Asian Americans Applaud Gay Marriage

Be Gay, Be Anything You Want Just Not Single

Why Gay Immigrants Cant Have Wedding Cake and Eat it, Too

Proud to be Californian: Now You can Marry Whomever You Want

No Gays in Iran But Many Same-Sex Couples

Beijing's 'Lala' Scene -- A Chinese Lesbian Speaks Out

Ethnic Communities Speak Out Against Gay Marriage

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