FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 12, 2004
(San Francisco, CA, October 12, 2004) — "For 27 years it didn't matter at all to me that Ida and I could not get married. There was no meaning in marriage that we didn’t already have in our love. And then one day in February 2004, marriage equality became all that mattered.” With the ocean outside their window, they were gently retired in Mendocino County but now they are local celebrities, on the front page of the newspaper. Like the other eleven couples in the NCLR lawsuit against the State of California, Myra and Ida now find their political activism heightened as they engage with strangers in the post office, the café and the market, at work and with family and friends. They even created a float in the 4th of July parade, scouring the Internet for second-hand wedding decorations. “It is exciting and so very important to us that we speak up not only for those of us who now want the right to marry but for all of us who want the right to live in freedom.”
Corey Davis wants that freedom. Corey has felt the weight of discrimination: “Growing up as a black male in this society, I have received too often that message of exclusion or of judgment by others to be ‘less than’ when they don’t know me at all.” That his government is sanctioning this discrimination only makes it worse as he and Andre deal with his HIV positive status, living apart as he attends school, sharing each others’ debt. He had an appointment to pick up wedding rings on the afternoon of March 11th in anticipation of his marriage to Andre Lejeune on the 17th. The California Supreme Court intervened--and he immediately thought of a banner that he puts up in the schools where he works: “Is this good enough for your child?”... He further asks: “Would you accept this kind of limit on the lives of your children?”
Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung do not accept that limit. Nor do they seek the spotlight that has come with being “Woo vs. Lockyer”. They would prefer a quiet life, raising their six-year-old daughter Olivia and managing the everyday things that a family has to handle from homework to running a small business. They have a young child, and that changes everything. Being in the public eye may be hard for them but they are determined to protect their family. Cristy proclaims: “Marriage discrimination is about family discrimination. It is so important for Olivia to see that we are willing to fight for our rights rights equal to the other families at the school where Olivia is in first grade, learning about Martin Luther King and civil rights. It’s important that Olivia know that we love each other as other parents do and that she grows up seeing that our freedoms are equal to those of other families.” Lancy and Cristy are willing to sacrifice their privacy to make the world a better place for their daughter.
Privacy is not even an option anymore.
Bernice Johnson Reagon, after seeing my partner Pali and me on the cover of USA Today: “Your name is on this moment. And when your name is on the moment, you have a choice to take it or not.”
The busy signal in my ear was relentless...and just as the stewardess was saying, “Please put all electronic devices away for take off,” a voice answered, “You want an appointment to get married?” I could have stopped that plane with my bare hands to make them wait for me to get that appointment before take off. My excitement surprised and pleased me. March 11th at 3 pm it was! And for the next two weeks Pali, my life partner and love of my life for the last 15 years and I would plan our wedding celebration. With both lighthearted excitement and some trepidation, we anticipated being part of history. March 11th at 2:45 pm: standing in line behind a straight couple as the sign went up: “ By order of the State of California, the City of San Francisco can no longer issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.” Pali and I were denied literally at the altar. The look on my son, Christopher’s face reflected back to us the pain of being separated from our civil rights. The disappointment was more than we could have imagined.
On the evening of March 11th, Kate Kendell asked us all to be part of the NCLR lawsuit. It gave us some comfort and great hope that we could turn all that angst into real social change. So, hold our place in line. We’ll take that moment back. In the meantime, please support NCLR they are doing amazing work. Our freedom to marry is counting on the work of this organization and your support.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.