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Leaders, Legal
Experts Hopeful Over California Marriage Ruling

Leaders, Legal
Experts Hopeful Over California Marriage Ruling

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On Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time in San Francisco, the California supreme court will issue its decision on whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, and some gay leaders and LGBT legal experts are feeling confident the decision will go their way.

On Thursday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time in San Francisco, the California supreme court will issue its decision on whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, and some gay leaders and LGBT legal experts are feeling confident the decision will go their way.

"Many of us have been feeling optimistic, but cautiously so," said Jenny Pizer, senior counsel at the legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, which is representing four of the six cases that make up "In Re: Marriage," the overall marriage case the California supreme court is deciding. "[The optimism] is based on the oral arguments. They went really well, and some of the questions from the justices -- and the tone -- showed how seriously they took our arguments. That some of the problems that justices in other states have had don't seem to be a problem [in California]."

Pizer also said the timing of the justices' decision contributes to Lambda Legal's hopefulness. The court actually has until June 2 to hand down its ruling but is deciding more than two weeks early, which may foreshadow an uncomplicated decision.

"The judges are mostly Republican appointees," Pizer said. "But they are moderate conservatives, not ideological conservatives. It's the most respected state supreme court in the country."

Pizer downplayed the possible negative repercussions that a decision legalizing same-sex marriage would have on the presidential election. However, when Massachusetts enacted marriage equality in 2004, it was used as a wedge issue in that year's presidential race.

"There's more excitement that if there's success here, it will help enormously to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment ballot measure in California," Pizer said. "[Defeating the amendment] is an enormous priority not only in California, because California so often leads the country. We're feeling quite optimistic about achieving marriage equality in California, and we know, if and when that happens, it will have an enormous positive influence on the country. The decision has national impact, much more in the legal and social landscape for gay and lesbian couples than in presidential politics."

Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, is also feeling positive about Thursday's decision. In an e-mail to supporters, Jean wrote, "Tomorrow [Thursday] the California supreme court will issue its ruling on same-sex marriage. Many are predicting the court will find that same-sex couples must be treated equally under California law and allowed to marry. Such a decision will not only change the lives of thousands of same-sex couples and their families in California but will change the national landscape for our community."

On Thursday evening, Jean is planning a street festival in the gay epicenter of West Hollywood, the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards. In her e-mail, Jean writes, "Win or lose, tomorrow night we eat cake!!" (Neal Broverman, The Advocate)

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