LANCE CARDOZO DWYER, Philippine News
The iconic rainbow or gay flag has been a symbol of tolerance and diversity especially for the LGBT community (photo: wikipedia)SAN FRANCISCO — For Elaine Kamlley, a 25-year-old queer Filipina, the same-sex marriage ruling in the US 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 agendas to work towards," she said.
Kamlley cited violence towards LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) community and a high suicide rate for LGBT youth as some of the issues were deemed more pressing than same-sex marriage.
"I do feel like it’s going to help normalize queer relationships in terms of legitimizing us as parents and couples in general. But I don’t think it will happen for a long time. I still think it’ll be a controversial issue for 10-20 years but it’s a jumping off point," said Kamlley.
May 15, 2008 has gone down as a monumental day in American history, as 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 reminds us, "At the end of the day, this is about real lives."
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!"
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.
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.
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, it’s 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.