Celebration as same-sex marriages begin in San Francisco

Hundreds from the lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities, along with supporters, assembled at San Francisco City Hall as same-sex marriages began on Monday, June 16. In a spirit of celebration and resistance, people cheered same-sex couples as they emerged from City Hall and jeered homophobic bigots from the Rev. Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, first same-sex couple in SF 6/16/08
Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin wed
after being together for 55 years,
San Francisco, Calif., June 16.

Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, were the first to be wed in San Francisco. The ceremony began at 5:01 p.m., the exact moment the California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages went into effect. Together for 55 years, they were the first same-sex couple to be wed in San Francisco in 2003, when same-sex marriages first began only to be later invalidated.

Dozens more marriages took place in San Francisco that evening, as well as in cities around the Bay Area.

Despite the presence of a small handful of bigots opposed to same-sex marriage, the scene at City Hall was joyful. Many in the crowd verbally challenged the bigots, who held signs featuring hate slogans such as “Homo sex is a threat to national security” and “Homo sex is a sin.” The crowd easily drowned out the bigots’ inane rantings with bullhorns.

Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation attended with signs proclaiming “Victory! Equality for All.” At one point, a newlywed couple emerged from City Hall, grabbed one of the signs and held it aloft to the cheers of the crowd.

Same-sex marriages in California still face a challenge from a November ballot referendum with a proposed change to the state Constitution. However, an appeals court denied a stay to the weddings pending the outcome of the November referendum. A fierce struggle must be waged to ensure that the recent gains are not rolled back.

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