Wedding cakes with same sex toppers, and rainbow
pride colored wedding-related anythings are moving fast as the
big day quickly approaches in California. Officials have said gay weddings may commence as early as June 16th. That's
Monday. Don't panic, there's still time to quickly snag a passing
hottie, board a plane and marry in the Golden State.
It's not quite that simple, is it?
California is set to become the second state to allow gay marriage,
but the first without a residency requirement. And for those out-of-state couples opting to marry there, they are certain to return home to face sobering challenges. Only New York and Rhode
Island have announced they will recognize a valid gay marriage
license performed elsewhere (yet, neither offers gay marriage
equality). To make matters worse, any gay marriage in the US is not
recognized by the federal government.
Challenges aside, what a joy to know
that love won this round. To
put a face on that love, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom plans to
officiate the first wedding on June 16th The couple, Del Martin and
Phyllis Lyons, have shared their lives for over five decades. They were plaintiffs in the California
Supreme Court decision.
Here they are after their first marriage, which was invalidated by the state.
Yet, while California remains one of
the prizes in the nation – more gays call it home than any other
state – the political stakes in the state and for the nation remain high. Conservatives understand the influence that the state holds
over the rest of the nation – as California goes, so does the
nation. A voter-led referendum that alters the State's constitution
to ban gay marriage is set to appear on the ballot this November.
Conservatives see California's ban as the must-win battle that will
draw Republican voters to the polls in the November presidential
election. “People feel like this California fight is for all the
marbles,” Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist
Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, recently told
the Reuters news agency. “If California rejects their Supreme
Court and changes their constitution, that's going to be huge ... if
we win California we have a chance of winning this nationwide.”
The contest over the referendum is
already set to become one of the most expensive yet as groups
worldwide - on both sides - have pledged their support. It will be a pitched battle for what Jennifer C. Pizer says is a useless ban.
Pizer, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal – a GLBT civil rights legal
group – and co-counsel for the California Supreme Court decision,
said that the bans accomplish nothing positive while creating real
hardships on gay and lesbian families. “...these statewide
rules... deny them [gay couples] really basic legal protections
without helping anyone, without accomplishing any positive purpose
whatsoever,” she recently told OUTTAKEonline.com CEO Charlotte
Robinson, who is currently producing a gay marriage documentary.
And in another part of the forest - Norway - gay marriage gets another nod.
If with all this talk of gay marriage,
being gay seems to be getting easier, don't count on it. Anti-gay
forces work their trickery in mysterious ways. In
Gambia, where homosexuality is illegal, President Yahya Jemmeh has
ordered the arrest and expulsion of homosexuals from the country,
saying he would “cut off” their heads.
And in Orlando, an 'ex-gay' conference
preys on unhappy gay men and lesbians. James Dobson's Love Won
Out conference aims to alter homosexuality through religious
means. Pro-gay group PFLAG greeted conventioneers this year with a display of parental love. Parents quietly protested the event with
banners that read: “I love my gay son,” “Don't let love lose
out,” and “Unconditional love.”
One parent who has unconditional love
for his daughter is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Katherine
Patrick recently told Bay Windows, a Boston based GLBT weekly, that her
father responded to her coming out with a bear hug and saying, “Well,
we love you no mater what.” Father and daughter
plan to march in this year's Boston Pride Parade.
And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report that brought me news of gay film festival happenings. A pair of documentaries focus on gay parenting at Newfest, New York's gay & lesbian film festival. And in Provincetown, Madonna has her directorial debut.
Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top
Magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gay Slant pops-in most Saturdays at On Top Magazine.
Hey kids, learn more about Charlotte
Robinson and her gay marriage documentary at www.OUTTAKEonline.com.