West Hollywood has seen its share of tears, joy, anger, and even violence against gays. But Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision to strike down California’s anti-gay marriage law known as Prop 8, drew an historical celebration. Weddings began on Friday. The photos are by Daily News photographer Michael Owen Baker. From my story (Daily News, June 26, 2013):
WEST HOLLYWOOD-Pride swelled in the hearts of hundreds and in the streets of West Hollywood where a rally was held Wednesday night to celebrate what many in the crowd said was a long fought for dream for marriage equality.
Men and women of all ages gathered on Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards to cheer two rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, one of which allows gays and lesbians to marry their partners legally in California.
“We kissed and reaffirmed our marriage proposal after the announcement this morning,” said Jeff Brue, who with his fiance Tom Coates, said he never thought the day would come when he could feel free to love who he wants.
“President Obama said it perfectly today. Love is love,” Brue said. “It’s hard to believe this is happening.”
The rally, held by the American Foundation for Equal Rights which sponsored the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that helped restore marriage equality to California, drew dozens of speakers, including those who were at the forefront to overturn Proposition 8. Crowds held up American flags and signs that read: “Today we are more American.”
That sign made actor and comedian Jason Stuart emotional, because he never quite felt accepted, he said.
“It’s a hard sign to look at,” he said. “It means so much.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at the rally, drawing loud cheers and applause for his work in supporting LGBT causes.
“Today marks an historic day for civil rights, an historic day for the Constitution of America, an historic day for love and an historic day for the LGBT community,” Villaraigosa said in English and in Spanish. “This morning equality triumphed. Proposition 8 is gone and done!”
But while many at the rally rejoiced Wednesday’s news, others said the fight for civil rights and marriage equality for all must continue. Only a third of the nation allows gays to marry. America is still a patchwork of rights, some added.
“This is history in the making, a gift,” said Rene Carlos Villa, 22, who is homeless.
Unaccepted by his family in the Inland Empire, Villa found help at the Gay and Lesbian Center, but said acceptance needs to happen in places both big and small, among rich and poor.
“Today is a beginning,” he said. “It’s not the end.”