From the Jordan Rustin Coalition:
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that restricting the word "marriage" to opposite-sex unions was discriminatory, unnecessary and unconstitutional. This decision also proclaimed that sexual orientation is as protected a class as race, gender and national origin and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This ruling will undoubtedly affect the future of same gender loving (lesbian and gay) people in California, and by example, the nation. What we need to know as double minorities is that this ruling is not a political farce, a ploy or only applicable to a limited segment of the population. It is for anyone who ever dreamed of growing up to marry the one they love and formally securing the benefits that society confers on marriage for themselves, and their family. The State of California is willing to help you realize these dreams by providing same-sex married couples the same benefits available to heterosexual married couples.
For a variety of reasons, some LGBT people of color have regarded being gay or lesbian as something white; something strange; something too out and loud about what they do in their bedrooms and certainly not affiliated with the person they see in the mirror. This reasoning is reinforced by a community that threatens to ostracize you from your family, friends, church and social network if you present as anything but stereotypically heterosexual.
The State of California already provided registered domestic partnerships. Beginning in June 2008, marriage for same sex couples seeking legal protection will become a reality. Once entered into, both registered domestic partnerships and marriage tell the state that you are knowingly assuming the rights and responsibilities provided to committed couples. These rights, privileges and responsibilities are color-blind. If you choose not to take advantage of these rights, privileges and responsibilities, you do so at your own peril. The court will not have the authority to right a wrong where steps could have been taken to remedy that wrong. In other words, if a couple breaks up and they did not enter into a marriage or domestic partnership, the court will continue to treat them as roommates and the couple would not be able to take advantage of the marital laws regarding property division and alimony. This is certainly an incentive to know your rights!
Domestic partnerships and marriage certainly force us to communicate honestly with one's partner and loved ones by entrusting us with much responsibility. Both these institutions bind us to one person in the eyes of the law for as long as we choose to be bound. These institutions now allow same-sex couples to approach equality with our heterosexual counterparts.
We must fight to keep this victory. First, there may be a ballot initiative in November 2008 that would take away same sex marriage and it must be defeated! It is a losing strategy for us to sit on our hands idly and let others take away our hard-earned rights. Second, if you are in a relationship, do you value it enough to protect it? Then choose how you will do so. Please consider reviewing your options to determine if getting married and /or entering into a domestic partnership is something that best protects your family..[i]
[i] JOHN TEAL is a paralegal in Los Angeles, CA.