Photo by Sarah Bennett.

In a victory for California same-sex couples, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld lower-court decisions banning Proposition 8, making gay marriage legal once again in California.

The country’s highest court also shot down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), overturning the 1996 federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples, meaning that federal tax and other benefits given to married couples will now be extended to gay couples who are legally married in their state.

In conjunction with the victories, The Center Long Beach will be hosting a victory party tonight at 7PM at The Grand.

“Today is a monumental day that will change, for the better, the lives of friends and families throughout our great
state and makes our nation stronger,” said Mayor Bob Foster, who helped raise a rainbow flag in front of City Hall when the cases were beginning to be heard in March.

Several years ago, the California Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages, with some 18,000 couples tying the knot. This led to supporters of heterosexual marriage to create Proposition 8, the referendum which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It narrowly passed in November of 2008.

Several same-sex couples appealed the proposition and in August 2010, a federal district court declared it unconstitutional. This led backers of Prop 8 to appeal the decision to the higher Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, though kept in place a stay on the ruling until it could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

This then brought the case to SCOTUS, who gave no ruling on the proposition’s constitutionality, but stated that the backers of Prop 8 had no political power to appeal the lower court’s decision, therefore reverting back to the original unconstitutionality ruling and reinstating same-sex marriage in California. 

“Because we find that petitioners [i.e. Prop 8 backers] do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in their decision.

The SCOTUS ruling was simultaneously cheered by both gay rights activists and traditional marriage advocates, since gay Californians can get married but the court avoided a nationwide redefinition of marriage.

“Today is a great day for America, and for our state,” said 1st District Councilmember Robert Garcia. “Citizens across California will now have the ability to marry the person they love, and be recognized by the federal government. Long Beach has always been a welcoming place for everyone, and I look forward to welcoming same-sex couples at City Hall as they choose to marry their partners. Equality and fairness have won the day.” 

“While we are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought,” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said at a press conference.

Long Beach City Clerk Larry Herrera is said to be working on allowing same-sex couples to be married at Long Beach City Hall. 

The Marriage Equality Victory Reception will be held tonight at 7PM at The Grand, located at 4101 E. Willow St. To RSVP, click here.

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