Local supporters of same-sex marriage viewed Thursday’s federal appeals court ruling declaring part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional as yet another step toward legal equality for gays and lesbians.
Reaction was understandably positive in the Bay Area, which has been a battleground for gay rights both legally and culturally.
“I read this as a slow but steady march across this country, court by court, toward equal marriage rights for all Americans,” said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. The senator also cited recent decisions against California’s ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8), national polls and President Barack Obama’s public statement in May affirming his support for marriage equality.
“The issue’s certainly not going away,” Leno said.
Adrian Molina, 26, of Oakland — who with his partner of nearly five years, Ryan Dooley, recently celebrated the anniversary of their unofficial marriage ceremony last year — echoed that sentiment.
“It was encouraging, definitely,” Molina said. “It just seems, at a time when it’s very topical, this is another kind of nail in the coffin for a discriminatory law.”
Molina and Dooley just moved into a new apartment.
“As I was putting up stuff, I left a spot on the wall for where I told my husband our marriage license will eventually go,” Molina said. “But for now, that spot is empty.”
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said in a statement that Thursday’s ruling was “a significant step forward in our march toward equality for LGBT Americans.” Pelosi called the legal defense of DOMA, which the Obama administration has declined to pursue, “a single-minded effort by Republicans in Congress to defend discrimination at great expense to the American taxpayer.”
Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sponsors of the legal challenge to Prop. 8, said in a statement that there has been “a clear pattern of consistent recognition among federal courts that marriage inequality — by any level of government — violates our nation’s core constitutional principles.”
In San Francisco’s famously gay Castro district, the ruling was met with relief.
David Goldman, 61, and Michael Koehn, 66, said legal restrictions on their marriage can be frustrating and expensive.
“When we file our taxes, it’s a nightmare,” Goldman said. “Not only do we not get any of the thousands of benefits like straight couples do, we have to pay extra accounting fees and tax fees because we’re a gay couple.”
Koehn expressed hope that the decision would stick.
“The state recognizes us, but not the federal [government], and it makes me feel like a second-class citizen,” Koehn said. “I hope this court ruling will be affirmed by the US Supreme Court.”
For Molina, the president’s recent comments and Thursday’s ruling have pushed his dream of an officially recognized marriage that much closer.
Bryan Vo, special to The San Francisco Examiner, contributed to this report.