In a landmark Friday decision, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages are legal and must be recognized in all 50 states. The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, is the culmination of decades of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy. Mojo looks at the Daily Bruin’s coverage of this divisive cultural issue on the UCLA campus and in state and national legislatures, and how attitudes towards it have changed dramatically in a mere matter of decades.
May 1996: “Clinton targets same-sex marriages“
“But opponents to the act … argue that some members of the heterosexual community simply do not want homosexuals entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual couples. ‘I get this impression that people are getting so bent out of shape about us getting married,’ said Jill Tordsen-McCall, a fifth-year English student who is getting married to her partner this summer.”
September 1996: Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Passes
The now-overturned law, which sought to define marriage as “between one man and one woman,” was passed by President Bill Clinton with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate.
March 2000: Proposition 22 Passes
Sixty-one percent of California voters approved of the initiative, which defined marriage as an opposite-sex relationship. It was overturned in 2008, though another ballot initiative – Proposition 8 – effectively superseded this one.
February 2004: “A closer look: Same-sex marriages unlikely in Los Angeles”
For a month in 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom defied state laws and national attitudes by ordering the municipal-county government to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the state intervened. This led to questions of whether or not a similar situation could arise in Los Angeles.
Any decision to support same-sex marriages (in the city) would have to be passed by the five members who make up the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with a minimum 3-2 vote.
“I cannot imagine the board taking that action,” said Robert Bradley Sears, director of the Charles R. Williams Project on Sexual Orientation Law at the UCLA School of Law.
September 2005: “State comes out for same-sex marriage – finally“
“We sat there for five seconds, 10 seconds, and nothing happened. We sat there for what seemed like an eternity, hoping and praying for one more vote.
Then, seconds before the voting was closed, Simon Salinas, of Salinas County, registered an aye vote, giving us the 41 we needed. The gallery erupted in jubilation, as couples laughed, wept and held each other in joy and relief.
But this vote will not be the last word on this issue. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will veto it, meaning it will never even become law.”
May 2007: Letter to the Editor
“Whether you are homosexual or want gays wiped off the planet should not matter – because the government should not have its fingers on any marriage in the first place,” wrote the then-secretary of the Bruin Republicans, Jimmy Dunn.
November 2008: Proposition 8 Passes
The controversial ballot initiative banned same-sex marriage in California and was immediately subject to legal challenges.
February 2010: “Professor testifies at Proposition 8 trial“
“In my book, I look at why same-sex couples get married, and it’s for the same reasons as heterosexual couples,“ said Lee Badgett, who recently published “When Gay People Get Married.” “Also, after gay couples are allowed to get married, there is no surge in divorces or drop in heterosexual marriage.”
Yet even when members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community feel confident in their identity, they face judgment from strangers around them. Besides the uncomfortable stares Jason Bernabe and Peter Rodriguez get from passersby, Rodriguez said they have been hurt by other students simply for their love for each other.
“I was walking home from a frat party with Jason one night, and (people in) a frat house across the street threatened me,” he said. “People’s views can make you feel unsafe sometimes.”
It was hard for them to tell their 5-year-old son about Proposition 8.
UCLA alumnus Larry Riesenbach married his husband, Tim Ky, shortly before Proposition 8 was approved by California voters, banning same-sex marriage. The law that said same-sex couples should not be allowed to wed still caused their family emotional pain, Riesenbach said.
When the couple learned Proposition 8 was sent back to the state and they would be recognized by the federal government, they held each other and Riesenbach said he started to cry.