Dayna Alpine/Daily Journal
Pat Watson and Michelle Hedding celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling to allow same-sex marriages in California with other local supporters.
“Love and justice” was the chant Joy Caneda from San Bruno asked the crowd in Redwood City to join yesterday evening.
Caneda married her wife, Catherine Monta, in California in 2008 during the short window when it was legal. On Wednesday evening, the moms brought their children — 11-year-old Julian and 2-year-old Alex — to the steps of the San Mateo County Clerk’s Office in Redwood City. They were gathered before the doors a couple enters to get a marriage license. They were there to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to support gay marriage, and speakers took turns sharing their feelings as part of a short, after-work rally put on by the mid SF Peninsula Chapter of Marriage Equality USA. The event brought together politicians, activists and locals who supported the ruling.
Those in the audience nodded as Caneda explained that this meant not having to celebrate multiple anniversaries. She and Monta married spiritually in 2007 then legally in 2008, but those rights were taken from others with Proposition 8, she said.
“There is love and justice once again,” Caneda said of the decision.
For Mitzi Henderson, past national president of PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the decision was the end of a long battle. She led PFLAG in 1996 when the Defense of Marriage Act was approved. She testified in Congress against the proposal noting it would take away over a thousand rights for gay couples.
“They got it all wrong at that time,” she said, adding it was eye-opening to watch a government that was supposed to work for the people not listen to her point of view.
Wednesday’s ruling was one that Henderson welcomed with a “hip, hip hooray!”
For many of the people in attendance, the Supreme Court support was a validation of their family and love. It was commonly referred to as one’s “national recognition day.”
Susan Takalo, co-chair of the San Mateo County Pride initiative, has been with her wife Glynis Takalo since 1998. The pair, who live in Pacifica, were among the 18,000 married in 2008. They waited until it was real, Takalo said. Their anniversary, July 5, is just around the corner. Traditionally they celebrate with a big Fourth of July gathering. This year, she said, will simply be a lot happier.
The idea of celebrating one anniversary was a welcomed change for future couples.
The Rev. Terri Echelbarger from the Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church rattled off the anniversaries that she and her wife share. Most share the same date in September but happened in different years — a side effect of laws not recognizing their marriage. Since Wednesday’s ruling was announced, Echelbarger has been getting calls from couples who she married prior to it being legal who want to do it again on their upcoming anniversary.
The Rev. Bill Kennedy, community minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, told the story of marrying two friends a few years ago on National Coming Out Day. But, to make it legal, the group traveled to Canada for the ceremony. Kennedy, at the time, questioned how long couples would need to travel internationally to be legally married. Wednesday’s decision to allow gay marriage is a step forward; however it is not yet legal in all states. As a result, Kennedy told people to realize there is still much work to be done.
“We, with love and determination, will get there,” said Kennedy.
Jeffrey Adair, San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee southern vice chair, showed his ring and said that it has even more meaning today with federal recognition.
Redwood City native James Lee was simply happy to not only see the changes in rights but also that it was being celebrated locally.
Wednesday’s decision does not mean the fight is over. There’s a waiting period before marriage licenses can be issued, said Steve Epstein, acting chair of the mid SF Peninsula Chapter of Marriage Equality USA. Epstein encouraged those who had gathered to stay involved and active in the weeks to come.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105