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Lesbian couple legally marry in California

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson have been first gay couple to legally marry in California

Congratulations to them.

In a very sweet move, they both wore white and had a traditional cake, but with two brides on it. The ceremony was a traditional Jewish one conducted under a huppah - 'traditional' obviously being a fairly flexible word here.

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The couple have repeatedly tried to get married in their 15 years together. For eight years they showed up at the courthouse each Valentine's Day and were repeatedly denied a marriage licence. Eventually they undertook a high-profile lawsuit to have California's ban on same-sex marriage ruled as unconstitutional.

For this, the couple were chosen to receive the county's first licence "in recognition of their unique role in the court's decision," said acting LA County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan.

Hundreds of guests and three television networks were on hand to greet the couple but of course, the nutjobs were also out in force with their placards complaining about how this will all be the end of civilisation as we know it.

What IS their problem? Do they seriously feel threatened by the level of personal commitment shown by these law-abiding, tax-paying adults? Are they equally threatened by Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, who married each other in San Francisco on the same day, the culmination of their 55-year relationship? In a world as fucked-up as this one, you'd think people would be happy to celebrate two human beings' obvious love for one another.

Nevertheless, whatever the right-wingers think, in the long run what might count for more is the pink pound (or gay greenback, in this case). There are about 80,000 resident gay couples in California and doubtless many of them will want to marry (there are said to be 650 lined up in San Francisco alone). With each couple spending a shedload on flowers, cakes, clothes and venues, any business connected with weddings stands to make a serious buck in the next six months.

So I hereby make a prediction - the world will not stop spinning on its axis because gay people get married. Let's see if I'm right....

California to permit gay marriage

The California supreme court has ruled that homosexual couples have the constitutional right to marry

blog imageIn a landmark ruling, California yesterday became the second US state, after Massachussetts, to permit full gay marriage. In doing so, it placed discrimination on the grounds of sexuality on the same level as that of racial discrimination.

The court came to its decision on a four to three verdict, striking down two state laws that had limited marriages to unions between a man and a woman. Other state high courts, including New Jersey, New York and Washington have considered the question of same-sex marriage in recent years, but have stopped short of striking down state laws forbidding it. The Connecticut Supreme Court is expected to give a ruling shortly shortly.

Chief Justice Ronald M George, in a statement for the majority, said that given the historic, cultural, symbolic and constitutional significance of marriage, the state could not limit its availability to opposite-sex couples.

"In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," said the judge.

Lawyers for the state (opposing gay marriage) identified two interests to justify reserving the term 'marriage' for heterosexual unions - tradition and the will of the majority but Chief Justice George said neither was sufficient. "As an historical matter," he said, "in this state marriage has always been restricted to a union between a man and a woman. But tradition alone does not justify the denial of a fundamental constitutional right."

Bans on interracial marriage, he pointed out, were also sanctioned by the state for many years and California was the first state to overturn them, in the 1948 Perez vs Sharp ruling.

About 110,000 same-sex couples live in California and although laws exist to give gay couples rights similar to marriage, most felt that these were still discriminatory.

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who opposes gay marriage, has stated that he respects the ruling and does not support a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, stated: "Today's ruling affirms that committed couples, gay and straight, should not be denied the duties, obligations and protections of marriage. This decision is a vital affirmation to countless California couples - straight and gay - who want to make, and have made, a lifelong commitment to take care of and be responsible for each other."

If all goes well, this means gay couples should be able to marry in about a month. Among those to benefit from the new ruling will be high-profile couple Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. DeGeneres announced their intention to marry during taping of her talkshow yesterday, which will be aired today.

Europe lags behind California, with only Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain permitting same-sex marriage. It is also permitted in Canada and South Africa.

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Sisters are doing it for themselves

Gay couple take the state of Colorado to court for their right to marry

A lesbian couple from Englewood, near Denver are seeking to overturn the state of Colorado's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple, Kate Burns (44) and Sheila Schroeder (43), have filed a motion claiming that Amendment 43, which was passed in 2006 and sought to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, violated their constitutional right to equal protection.

"Marriage is a fundamental right, which should be for all Coloradans, not just some Coloradans," said their lawyer Mari Newman.

Sadly, the amendment was passed by a 55 per cent majority, so perhaps their chances of overturning it are not high, but hats off to them for trying - what could be more romantic for Valentine's Day?

For more on this story, visit the New York Times website.

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