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Lawmakers Respond to Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Same-Sex Marriage

gay ringsBy Brian Hews

Washington, DC – As word of the United States Supreme Court ruling that declared the Defense of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional, several area members of Congress quickly issued statements regarding the historical decision on Wednesday.

United States Supreme Court building.

United States Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, who represents Cerritos, Artesia, Norwalk, La Mirada and a large portion of Southeast Los Angeles County told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper that “today’s ruling is a victory for civil rights.  The Court brought our nation one step closer to equality for all Americans.”

Sanchez also said that “DOMA and Proposition 8 did nothing but disparage the dignity of gay and lesbian couples.  I am proud that all couples in California have the right to declare their love by legally entering into marriage and having that commitment recognized throughout our nation.”

Sanchez pointed out that The Defense of Marriage Act became law in 1996 and restricted federal marriage benefits and required inter-state recognition of only opposite-sex marriages.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who represents the greater Long Beach area including Hawaiian Gardens said in a statement that: “The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold equality for all Americans, especially my constituents and friends in California, starts to close a dark chapter in the our nation’s journey to ensure equal protection under the law. This is the kind of protection and judicial action all Americans deserve.

“The unconstitutionality of DOMA and Prop 8 further proves the shifting mindsets of the American people. I applaud the Supreme Court for their decisions, and I wish to congratulate all of our LGBT citizens and equal rights advocates for showing no fear in the face of discrimination,” Lowenthal continued.

“Despite these successes, I am committed to working with the Administration to strengthen federal protections for couples living in states that do not recognize their marriages; the federal government must ensure that these couples receive the federal recognition and respect that they deserve. Although this was a huge win, the fight for true equality for all Americans still pushes on,” Lowenthal concluded.

Lowenthal is a member of the Congressional House LGBT Equality Caucus, and recently organized the NOH8 Campaign’s photo shoot: “NOH8 on The Hill”. This year, the NOH8 photo shoot boasted a record-setting 67 Congressional participants from the House and two members of the Senate, all taking a stand for marriage equality. This year’s event brought the total number of “NOH8 On The Hill” Congressional participants over the past three years to 100.

Earlier this year, the Congressman also became the first member of Congress to publicly display the iconic Pride Flag outside of his Washington, D.C. and Long Beach offices, according to the House Historian.

California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement: “After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted.”

Governor Brown also said “the effect of today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling is that the 2010 federal district court’s decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is left intact and the law cannot be enforced.”

Brown also directed the California Department of Public Health to advise county officials on Wednesday that the district court’s injunction against Proposition 8 applies statewide and that all county clerks and county registrar/recorders must comply with it. However, same-sex Californians will not be able to marry until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay of the injunction, which has been in place throughout the appeals process, is lifted.

In preparation for this outcome, Governor Brown sought an opinion from California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris on whether the state, through the California Department of Public Health, can advise county clerks and registrar/recorders that they are bound by the federal district court’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The Attorney General concluded that the California Department of Public Health “can and should” instruct county officials that they “must resume issuing marriage licenses to and recording the marriages of same-sex” couples. The Department will issue another letter to county officials as soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirms the stay is lifted.

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