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Prop 8’s Sandy Stier & Kris Perry Mark 10 Years of Marriage at VP Kamala Harris’s Home

Prop 8’s Sandy Stier & Kris Perry Mark 10 Years of Marriage at VP Kamala Harris’s Home

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier

Vice President Kamala Harris paid tribute to Sandy Stier and Kris Perry during a Pride reception at the vice president’s residence.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit that overturned California’s Proposition 8 that banned marriage equality, celebrated the 10th anniversary of their historic wedding at the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

As attorney general of California in 2013, Harris performed the couple’s wedding ceremony, a nod to which the vice president gave during her remarks at the Pride Month celebration she hosted at the official residence — the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

While looking out at a crowd of invited LGBTQ+ activists and leaders ranging from state and federal politics and non-profit and business worlds, as well as celebrities from television, film, sports, music, stage, and social media, in attendance for a Pride reception, she paused at the beginning of her speech to highlight Perry and Stier and their family.

“One of their sons is getting married in August; the other one is taking the bar, and they have their 10th anniversary tonight,” Harris said, beaming with joy as the crowd cheered.

“It was literally 10 years ago at probably this very moment,” she explained as she told the crowd about that day’s events.

“It was incredible,” she said as she began telling the story of her being in a meeting in her office in San Francisco when somebody passed her a note that said that the court may rule.

Harris had vowed not to defend Prop 8 in the attorney general’s race, whereas her opponent said he would. As the victor, Harris did what she had promised and refused to defend the discriminatory law.

She recalled how she had gotten a notification that the court had ruled and that Perry and Stier were en route to San Francisco City Hall with hopes that Harris would marry them.

She explained that while her security detail at the time was insistent she be driven there, Harris said she wanted to walk proudly down the street and ultimately made her way on foot to the Harvey Milk balcony at City Hall.

Harris told The Advocate recently that performing that marriage and being among the first elected officials to wed same-sex couples nine years prior as San Francisco district attorney were among the most joyful moments in her life.

“I think that there’s probably some law and physics that says that when you have so many people in one space who are experiencing pure joy, it just changes the whole energy. You feel it,” Harris said. “And it was an extraordinary experience to be a part of those days in this movement where we took it upon ourselves to acknowledge what should have been acknowledged, which is the love and the devotion and the dedication that two people are prepared to commit to each other.”

Perry and Stier got married after the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling finding the 2008 proposition unconstitutional in the pair’s landmark Perry vs. Hollingsworth case. Prop. 8, which passed by a vote of 52 percent in favor to 48 opposed, changed the state’s constitution to include, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Harris performed the ceremony on the same day that the Ninth Circuit lifted the 25-day waiting period for implementing marriage equality after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Stier and Perry told The Advocate that sharing the milestone of their love story with the assembled crowd, with their friend, the vice president of the United States honoring them, was a tremendous experience for the civil rights leaders.

“We were so excited to get the invitation and especially to have this really wonderful celebration of Pride at the vice president’s residence land on our actual anniversary. [It] was, for us, absolutely the best way to spend our 10-year anniversary,” Stier says. “We’ve been doing some different things to celebrate — some travel and other activities — but to be with Vice President Harris, somebody who has been not only so important in our lives for performing our wedding but also as such a strong advocate for LGBT and other folks for so many years — we’ve always known her as a champion for our rights. What an amazing time to be with her last night. We just absolutely loved it.”

Perry says the moment reminded her of December’s Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law during a ceremony at which hundreds of LGBTQ+ people were in attendance, including Perry, Stier, and their four sons.

“That was the first time we had ever figured out how to get all six of us together for such a momentous occasion,” Perry says. “So that was an incredibly historic moment for us as a family and obviously for the country. Then last night, when we met with her a few minutes before her speech — which by the way, was one of the most powerful speeches either of us has ever really heard her deliver in all these years of following her — she asked about the boys, and we shared with her that our son Spencer just finished law school and he’s studying for the California bar.”

Perry continues, “So it was really fun for her and Doug to give us advice to give Spencer about how to do that.”

She chuckled that Harris’s advice and Emhoff’s advice differed.

“That was really fun because Doug, being a law professor now, was like, ‘Don’t do anything else. Do not socialize, do not eat dinner, do not sleep, just study.’ And the vice president kept saying, ‘It’s a life event. Take it in stride. Don’t get too stressed out.’ So it was very, very sweet the way they were kind of mommying.”

Perry explains, “And then the other child update for us is that our other son, Elliot, is going to be married in San Francisco City Hall in the same location where we were married, coincidentally.”

As far as the current political moment where Republicans and conservatives, including right-wing extremists, are targeting the LGBTQ+ community with restrictions and stripping of rights, the pair say they’re outraged by the vocal detractors.

“It’s been true since we went to trial that the tides turned 10 years ago, 15 years ago, in favor of equality and in favor of same-sex couples, and that really hasn’t changed over the years,” Perry says. “But members of Congress seem to be going backward and maybe the courts a little bit backward on this issue, despite what the American people want.”

She adds, “I think the American people have moved on, and instead of accepting [the vocal minority’s attacks], let’s tackle new problems. It feels like they’re resurrecting old problems and singling out transgender youth and adults in a way that feels cruel and that’s unnecessary. It’s distracting from our bigger problems as a country.”

Perry continues, “So I feel optimistic about where the American people are, but very pessimistic about where the court is particularly [after] the affirmative action ruling [which] is so chilling if you think about basic fundamental rights and equality that it takes us back decades, like Dobbs, decades backward. So [Harris’s] point last night that this [fight] is never done really resonated.

“It is why it’s important for new people to embrace and care about LGBTQ+ rights and civil rights generally; this is not one and done. It seems to be a forever fight.”

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