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The Road to

The Road to


Barbara Boxer, the U.S. senator from California, understands why her gay constituents are furious over Rick Warren's role in the inauguration -- it feels like Proposition 8 redux.

In recent days, I have been overwhelmed by the number of Californians who are excited and hopeful about the change that is coming to Washington and our nation. I have also heard from many of my constituents who are upset about the inclusion of pastor Rick Warren in the presidential inaugural ceremonies.

As someone who saw, firsthand, the way the passage of Proposition 8 in California personally affected those who have struggled so long and so hard for equal rights, this controversy is understandable.

Proposition 8 overturned a California supreme court decision -- eloquent in its simplicity -- that made clear that California's constitution protects a fundamental right to marry that extends to same-sex couples. Chief Justice Ronald George, a Republican, made a strong legal case as to why setting up a different set of marriage rules is akin to setting up a different set of rules for people based on race or gender.

My views on marriage equality have evolved over time. At one point, I did think it was possible to substitute civil unions for marriage as long as couples had the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else under the law. But, as the California supreme court found, in order for full equality to exist for all of our people, you cannot have different standards when it comes to making the lifelong commitment to honor and love.

Unfortunately, the campaign for Proposition 8, funded mostly by the Mormon Church, was not fought on the basis of the court case. It was sadly focused on false issues surrounding education in the schools, which had nothing to do with Proposition 8.

It is also unfortunate and perplexing that religious leaders such as Pastor Warren, who has moved his church forward on important issues such as fighting AIDS, poverty, and global warming, chose to make extremely hurtful statements in support of Proposition 8. The struggle over marriage equality doesn't involve the church -- it involves civil law. The religious community can make its own determination about which marriages to perform.

I am heartened that the inaugural ceremony will include a benediction by the Reverend Joseph Lowery, a legendary civil rights leader.

Those of us who believe passionately in equal rights for all have great cause for hope right now.

In a little more than a month, we will have a president in the White House who will champion true equality in the workplace, equality in health care, equality in service to our nation, equality in our justice system, equality for all. I look forward to working closely with President-elect Obama, my colleagues, and everyone who cares deeply about equality to make its promise real for all Americans.

The road to equality is long and difficult. It will be bumpy. It will have setbacks, and we have many miles to go. But, we can prevail. We must prevail. And walking hand-in-hand, we will prevail.

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