Rainbowed flags fluttered in the breeze. Spectators shed the occasional tear of disbelief and joy. An air of calm celebration filled the early evening of one of the first nights of summer near City Hall.
Hundreds of Long Beach residents rallied at Long Beach’s Civic Plaza Friday in celebration of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote in favor of gay marriage.
The celebration, organized by The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club and the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, featured speeches by Mayor Robert Garcia, the LGBTQ Center’s President and Board Chair Ron Sylvester and local lawyers and activists.
“It’s difficult to know that even though you are leading a city, and you’re [an] American, you still don’t have the same rights as everybody else,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Today is a uniquely important American day.”
The mayor took time earlier Friday to raise the Pride flag in honor of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Many individuals at the rally expressed surprise that the ruling occurred during their lifetimes.
Ken Osborn, who married his husband in 2008, said he was experiencing déjà vu.
“I was here about 20 years ago, protesting Councilman Jerry Schultz, who’d said some pretty nasty things about the gay community,” Osborn said of the 500 person interfaith march to the Civic Plaza. He said he was also a litigant in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” lawsuit.
Of the ruling, he said, “I didn’t ever think I’d see it.”
The rally’s speakers interpreted the law, saying it would likely now be easier for gay parents to adopt. Others spoke about the progress still needed in terms of job and income discrimination for gay Americans.
Same sex marriage officiant Alan Katz said he was overjoyed at the ruling—even though some of his business will likely disappear, as non-Californians get married in their home states.
“But you know what, if that’s the reason for losing business, I will lose business every single day, because what happened was right,” Katz said. “What happened was just. And people will still come to California to get married, people will still keep coming to California—gay, straight, it doesn’t matter. California is the place to be.”
He said he is often a consultant for other marriage officiants who are new to same sex marriage situations. He’s proud to have publicly declared his support for same sex marriage “11 or so years ago.” Today, he said about 20 percent of the weddings he officiates are same sex.
“And now, all these years of fighting, all these years of hope and dreams for couples to be treated equally, today is that day,” Katz said. “Today, equality is a reality. Today, love wins.”