Statement of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins on Today’s Marriage Equality Rulings
Today, equality for same sex couples became the law of the land for California and the other twelve states that have chosen marriage equality. It is a great day to be a Californian and a great day to be an American.
Five years ago, almost to the day, our “Summer of Love” began. For four months in 2008, gay and lesbian couples in California could marry the person they loved and enjoy all the dignity and respect that a legal marriage confers. But then Proposition 8 took that right from us. Today, the United States Supreme Court gave it back.
For five long years since the passage of Prop 8, gay and lesbian Californians have had to live with the stigma that their relationships weren’t considered as good as those of heterosexual couples. For couples married in the other states with marriage equality, the federal government has denied same sex couples more than one thousand important federal benefits.
The Supreme Court has now rejected that notion of second class status and recognized that the federal government should not block gay and lesbian Americans from committing their lives to the person they love and have that commitment respected by society.
As one of the 18,000 couples who were able to marry before the passage of Prop 8, I personally know how important both of today’s rulings are.
Certain rights are fundamental and cannot be taken away at the ballot box. This is one of the self-evident truths of the American system. I have always believed in the essential fairness of the American people and in the promise of equality that is embedded in the U.S. Constitution. In poll after poll, a majority of Californians say they support marriage equality. Today’s Supreme Court ruling brings that belief closer to reality. Now we must work to establish equality throughout the nation.
Until then, at least in California, let the weddings begin!