On May 15, the California state Supreme Court overturned a state law that forbid same-sex couples from legally getting married. In its 4-3 decision the court said that the law restricting marriage to opposite gender couples violated same-sex individuals’ rights to equal protection under the state constitution.
The court’s decision makes California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. The court was ruling on a law California voters passed in 2000, which restricted marriage to heterosexual couples.
The controversy over marriage for same-sex couples erupted in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom legalized marriage for same-sex couples in his city. Thousands of people got married, although later that year a lower court in California said Newsom acted without proper authority and ruled that those marriages weren’t legal.
The Supreme Court’s decision reverses the lower court’s ruling and legalizes marriage for same-sex couples. Weddings could be held as early as mid-June.
*Editor’s note: the readers’ comments at the end of the story do not appear because this story was originally posted in our March issue and when updating for May we were unable to re-post them. We apologize for any confusion.
I am openly gay and finding out that the California Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is now legal made me very happy. When I heard I basically tossed the phone, ran out of the house and yelled down the block, “I can get married!” The adrenaline rush that I got and all the happiness that went through my body was inexplicable. I felt as if I was the king of the world and that I could finally express who I am. After being silenced for so many years and being insulted all the time, I can walk down the road and be proud of who I am. To see even those who are not gay support the cause made me cry.
If there are those that are getting ready to protest against this ruling, I am ready to get out there and fight to keep it. I have been silent for such a long time because of others’ harassment that I will not succumb to it. I will get out there to get my voice heard. This decision has made me the happiest kid in the world. All I have to say now is to all those who are gay, don’t be ashamed and stand your ground with pride. And to all those who are straight, thank you for those who support this. Being gay is not a disease. I am also human and I am just like everyone else, I just have a different sexual preference. I am queer and I’m here and I’m not planning to go anywhere and trust me I’ll be fighting until the end.
Richard Aviles, 17, Foshay Learning Center Until recently, gay rights had never been a significant issue in my mind. My religious views keep me from supporting homosexuality, and I had been rather indifferent to gay rights, it had no direct effect in my life. However, it was just this morning that a very close friend of mine "came out" and admitted to me that he was bisexual. I was at first hesitant to support him, I felt that encouraging him would betray my religious morals, but after hearing his confession and thinking for a while, I have chosen to support the ruling to make gay marriage legal.
The law is a man-made code, and it is no place for humans to play God and try to impose their personal moral codes upon fellow men. The law is created to protect the people, it is not a place for religious ideas to be enforced. At hearing my friend talk about his new, unconventional relationship, I sensed happiness that I had rarely seen even with straight couples. So although I cannot say I support homosexuality, I believe that every person, including my good friend, is entitled to happiness and deserves the legal right to marry the person of their choice.
Michelle Paik, 16, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS I never supported same-sex marriage and my friends have held the same view. We discussed the issue during lunch Friday. Not surprisingly, I found that most people at my school opposed the ruling. I think it was because they were mostly influenced by their parents’ views of this issue (all my friends are Asian so their parents are Asian and they hold very conservative views) and because of religious reasons. Both of those cases are factors in my opposition, however the main reason for my disapproval comes from my internal sense of morality. Many people who approve of homosexuality say that people have their own right to pursue happiness and the things that make them happy. However, just because a certain thing satisfies people’s wants, does that justify it? Just because it is the will of the majority does not automatically make it “right.” I strongly believe that we should question the morality of this decision and consider what this ruling will bring to our future generations.
Elliot Kwon, 15, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS
The legalization of gay marriage gives me hope. I hope that in small steps, people will become less narrow-minded and less trapped in phobia. Homosexuals deserve rights like any heterosexual does.
Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 16, Beverly Hills HS
My school is very accepting of gay and lesbian couples, so when I heard about the ruling it felt right. The court’s values are beginning to match our generation’s more open points of view.
Alana Folsom, 17, Marshall HS
I was surprised when I heard about the decision the California Supreme Court made legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. I’m happy about it, but I know there will be lots of controversy over it. I’m a supporter of LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and same-sex marriages, but it defies and challenges things I was taught by both the church and by my traditional Asian parents. Personally, I believe the ruling was unnecessary. Same-sex couples are couples whether or not they are recognized by the state. I don’t think people need a piece of paper to validate their status in life or even so, who they are. Yet, I can’t possibly imagine how it feels to be deprived of the "pursuit of happiness’"or even marriage to the one they love.
Amanda Ly, 16, Mark Keppel HS (Alhambra)
With the California Supreme Court ruling, hopefully it will be easier for the whole nation to inch toward recognizing straight and gay married couples alike.
Javier Rodriguez, 16, Kennedy HS (Granada Hills)
When I heard that the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, I was very excited, but also I wondered what took so long. I lived in the San Francisco area when the mayor of San Francisco legalized gay marriage in the city in 2004 and since then I have always thought that gay marriage should be legal in the state of California.
Many teachers at my school are openly gay and I am so happy that now they can get married to their partners. Hopefully the rest of the country will follow California’s lead and legalize gay marriage across the nation.
Casey Peeks, 16, Marlborough School
I think it’s amazing that gay marriage was legalized because it’s the start of a revolution, a new era. I hope that it will be legalized nationally because every human, gay or straight, deserves every human right, including marriage.
Nadine Choe, 16, Notre Dame Academy
I am a supporter of same-sex marriage but I am not a lesbian. Why should we be against it when it has nothing against straight people? It is the same as ‘normal’ marriage.
Bella Chen, 14, Chaparral MS
The ruling did surprise me—in a good way. I’m glad that more attention is being put on civil rights. This seems like the right time since we have more young citizens involved in these issues who will have an influence in spreading it nationwide.
Solange Rubio, 17, Leuzinger HS (Lawndale)
When I heard that the California Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage in California, I was ecstatic. But also felt that this ruling should have been issued long ago. Everyone should have the same rights, regardless of who they love or who they want to spend the rest of their life with. I feel that same-sex marriages should be legalized in every state in the country. Who are we to dictate who should love each other? Love is an amazing thing and does not care about your skin color, race or gender. People should be able to express their love in any way they see fit, including marriage.
Megan Jalil, 15, Taft HS (Woodland Hills)
I personally think it’s OK for gay couples to get married now that the law was enacted. It wouldn’t be fair for them to see straight couples get married, while they are not allowed to have the same opportunity.
Some gay couples want to get married for family purposes. They want to raise children and set a good example for others of how to be a family.
Moreover, getting married can have a positive effect on a gay couple’s financial stability. It could make their living conditions more profitable and easier to benefit from.
Furthermore, I think gay people should have the same rights as straight couples. Many go to work and live their lives like ordinary people. They need to have the chance to express what he/she feels is right.
Camilla Rambaldi, 16, Taft HS
I believe the California gay marriage ruling is overdue for such a liberal state. It seems incredibly late when compared to the 2004 Massachusetts decision. Here, GAY is the norm. Here, the verdict is a victory.
Marriage in California is now the voluntary union of two persons as spouses. People opposing same-sex marriage have an issue with whether marriage is secular or religious. No matter what the answer is, I believe homosexual relationships should be legally recognized. This way gays and lesbians can have the same marriage rights heterosexual spouses do.
I realize people do not just get married for practical benefits. Many gay and lesbian couples get married solely for religious reasons. Being able to say they are married to their same-sex wives and husbands, shows their governments and religions have accepted their beliefs. I believe same-sex couples that follow a religion that call a union of two people who love each other a marriage, should have the right to do the same with their relationship; because all people are equal.
The ruling takes the pressure off of married gays and lesbians in Massachusetts; they are no longer the case study. More than 10,000 gay and lesbian couples have wed since the court redefined marriage in Massachusetts. Though married same-sex couples in Massachusetts still face opposition, last June lawmakers voted 151 to 45 against a measure that would have placed an amendment barring same-sex marriage on the state ballot.
I hope a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions in California does not make the November ballot.
Alex Key, 16, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies
Janette Ocampo, 16, Alhambra HS
I am so happy about the gay marriage ruling. The arguments against it included the 61 percent of Californian voters who voted to ban gay marriage in 2000. In overruling them, the court made a point. I think that most people who condemn homosexuality do it because it makes them feel uncomfortable, in a "It is different from the norm, so it is immoral," way. This court’s ruling showed people that basic human rights are just that: human rights, no matter what orientation you are. Maybe the "traditional family" proponents who think that gay couples cannot raise children would change their minds if they could get over their long-held prejudices and spend some time seeing them as people. The "civil unions" label was another kind of "separate, but equal," and history has taught us that that doesn’t work out so well.
Emily Clarke, 14, Palisades Charter HS
Homosexuals should have the right to marry whomever they please, as should anyone who is capable of making a decision of informed consent pertaining to a civil union. I would apply this to polygamous marriages too, which should also be legal. As for those who claim that this was a subversion of democracy, certain judicial systems are in place to protect a minority from the oppression of a majority. To allow something like this to be decided mob rule would be the tyranny of the majority.
Julian Gutierrez, 16, Columbus Continuation HS (Downey)
I believe homosexual marriage should not be allowed for I believe it is morally wrong. I know many people have a different perspective from me. I say this not to do things my way, but because I believe marriage will not grant homosexuals happiness, at least not a permanent one. God did not establish laws because he was bored and had nothing else to do, but because he had a purpose in doing so.
Raymond Carrillo, 18, Polytechnic HS (Sun Valley)