Gay marriage resumes in California, Malibu reps applaud ruling

File photo: Congressman Henry Waxman

Same-sex marriage began again in California Friday when a federal appeals court moved with surprising quickness to remove a hold on a 2010 injunction, an action met with joy from gays and consternation from supporters of Proposition 8.

In separate 5-4 decisions Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a trial court’s ruling declaring Prop. 8 unconstitutional, paving the way for the resumption of gay marriage in California. Gov. Jerry Brown immediately ordered that gay couples be issued marriage licences as soon as a 25-day hold was lifted, but the court responded within two days, leading to the scenes of jubilation from gays and outcry from Prop 8 supporters seen Friday.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday also ruled that a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which passed in 1996 with bi-partisan support and defined marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional because it denied same-sex couples federal benefits enjoyed by other married couples. The court’s decision makes the more than 100,000 legally married U.S. gay couples eligible for tax breaks, pension rights and other federal benefits.

Malibu’s elected representatives cheered Wednesday’s ruling, although one suggested the court should have gone further.

“The Supreme Court rulings are a victory for the right of gays and lesbians to marry the person they love,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “The affirmation of this fundamental right is a long overdue and welcome one.”

Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who represents Malibu, called the ruling historic.

“These dual rulings will give respect and dignity to millions of gay and lesbian Americans,” Bloom said. “The decision is pivotal for Californians and a historic step forward in the struggle for full marriage equality across the country.”

Rep. Henry Waxman cheered the decision, but called it overdue.

“Justice Kennedy courageously recognized that all married couples deserve the same recognition, dignity, and rights,” Waxman said. “The Court says that the federal DOMA statute limiting marriage serves no legitimate purpose. This is clearly the only right answer and it is long overdue.”

Transitioning same-sex couples into the federal system would be the next step in the process, Waxman said.

“We must now begin the complicated and detailed work in each of these programs to make them equal and fair,” Waxman said. “I will work in all programs and through all bureaucracies to advocate those changes.”

The congressman chastised the court for leaving in place the lower-court decision on Prop. 8 instead of issuing its own ruling, which he said could have prevented years of legal wrangling.

“That failure is going to mean years of further litigation throughout the Nation,” Waxman said. “That new litigation could have been avoided if the Supreme Court had simply recognized that marriage is a fundamental right that should be equally available to all people, gay or straight.”

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