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Citizens and media approaching Main Plaza early Wednesday evening met with a party-like atmosphere. Speakers blasted LGBT-friendly pop songs like Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” while more than 150 citizens trickled in to dance and listen to speakers from various local LGBT advocacy groups talk about what today’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean for the community.
Many have much to celebrate in the wake of the Court’S finding both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s gay marriage ban (Proposition 8) unconstitutional.
The DOMA decision, brought by the case United States v. Windsor, scrapped a federal law that bars recognition of same-sex marriage, though it did not decide if there was a constitutional right for same-sex marriage. The court’s Prop 8 decision was read just hours later and was based on legal technicalities rather than an equal rights issue.
Basically, same-sex marriage is now federally recognized in states that allow such marriages, including California, only the 13th state to do so in the United States.
Wednesday was not the day that gay marriage became completely legal and respected in the United States, but it is cause for celebration, said GetEQUAL TX Lead Organizer Jay Morris-Spriggs at the rally. “We cannot be content with remaining unjust laws,” he said.
“Today we celebrate the inevitability of human equality,” he said, applauding Tuesday night’s attempted filibuster of SB5 in the Texas Legislature. “We fight for all people, not just LGBT people … Transgress, my friends!”
It was an emotional day for many San Antonians, including local equal rights activist and Stonewall Democrat chapter Founder Daniel Graney, whose spouse of 36 years, Roberto, passed away in 2010 after just one year into their legal marriage.
“We still have work to do (in San Antonio),” Graney said to the crowd. “Get this city into the 21st century.”
While an ordinance passed two years ago granting partner benefits to city employees, City Council has been slow to consider District One Councilman Diego Bernal’s proposed ordinance to include sexual orientation on the City’s list of discrimination clauses. Community Alliance for a United San Antonio (CAUSA) is behind much of the organizational effort behind the Human Rights ordinance, expected to come before City Council this fall.
[Read The Current’s recent run-down of the issue here.]
Rosa Gonzalez, a local lawyer and equal rights advocate, reminded the crowd of the power of voting in local government.
“All politics is local,” Gonzalez said, noting the rally’s strategic position between the Bexar County Courthouse and City Hall. “This is a day to rejoice but also a day to step it up!”
Those identifying as part of the LGBT community stood with straight allies in the heat of the early evening, some finding shade beneath and behind the courthouse’s entrance walls. A member of the local chapter of Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), held back tears as she expressed her gratitude of local support for her gay son. A local lesbian couple told of their disbelief that marriage equality is still a controversial issue. A gay student, studying in the United Kingdom, was thinking of applying for citizenship elsewhere – a country that recognizes his love for his boyfriend – but now, he said, he’s considering staying an American.
Stories like these contributed to a dialogue that surely will continue in San Antonio.