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Marriage Equality

Stories of Love
... and Loss

Stories of Love
... and Loss

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After Prop. 8, protests, and even babies, a handful of the married couples we featured on our October cover update us on their lives while their marriages hang in the balance.

Last fall we interviewed 14 married couples and photographed 24 total couples for our last story on marriage equality in California before Proposition 8 was approved by voters in the November election. The ballot initiative rescinded equal marriage rights, but these couples have persevered. Here is a look at where their lives have taken them since Prop. 8's passage.

Jay Mendes and Vantha Sao

If you took part in any of the Proposition 8 rallies that followed, what stands out to you as the most memorable experience? History will record the passage of Proposition 8 as the catalyst of a new wave of gay activism. Our momentary anger and disappointment that more [people] did not join the fight with us in the months prior to the election quickly gave way to an embrace of all who were now awakened, emboldened. It was heartening, after the election, walking down Santa Monica Boulevard [in los Angeles] with hundreds of gays and straights of every age and background, packing San Vicente Boulevard with a few thousand bodies for rallies and marches that happily received significant media coverage. We were also moved at the Mormon temple in Westwood the first day of protests, when we looked back as we circled the grounds and saw a sea of energized young people, who literally had our backs.

What do you think the logical next step is in legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the state? Our fingers are crossed that the court will invalidate Proposition 8. Failing that, a group that has been working to protect same-sex marriage in California since last May, LoveHonorCherish.org, will seek to place a measure on an upcoming ballot to repeal Proposition 8.

Would you ever consider moving to another state if they were to legalize same-sex marriage? Our home is West Hollywood. Period.

Joyce Croker and Joan EllinghamWhat was your first reaction when you found out that Proposition 8 passed on Election Day?Joyce: I felt horribly betrayed and angry, but somehow not surprised. The Prop. 8 bigots were well-supported and well-organized. We were naive to not have been better organized in our anti campaigns.

Joan: I was saddened that so many people wanted to take away our rights in the name of Jesus. I hardly think he would have approved. (I am still a practicing Catholic.)

If you took part in any of the Proposition 8 rallies that followed, what stands out to you as the most memorable experience?Joyce: I attended the rally downtown rally on November 15. It was quite moving how many people, gay and straight of all ages and ethnicities, showed up to support us. I don't believe I've attended a political rally since the anti-Vietnam war protest marches of the early '70s. It felt good and necessary to be there to show solidarity.

Would you ever consider moving to another state if it were to legalize same-sex marriage?Joyce: It's more an issue of where we won't move, if there is no domestic partnership, antidiscrimination laws, or same-sex marriage. We own a house in the mountains in Utah, which we use as a vacation home. As long as they discriminate against gays, we won't consider retiring there.

Joan: We believe in voting with our pocketbooks; we aren't terribly interested in increasing the revenue of antigay states. I am retired, and Joyce will hopefully retire within the next five years. We'll move to, and contribute our tax dollars to a state that supports our marriage.

Julie and Sara Berger

What has changed the most about your life since Proposition 8 passed in California? Since Election Day we welcomed our beautiful triplets into our family. Samuel, Charlotte, and Oliver were born on October 24, 2008, and they make us want to fight even harder for our rights. Sadly, because our marriage is not recognized on a federal level, we've had to begin adoption proceedings for us both to be legal parents of our kids.

What do you think the logical next step is in legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the state? The GLBT community and our friends and family who support us need to get better organized and angry. We all need to be committed to get the message out that we are normal, tax-paying, good people who deserve equality.

Zsa Zsa Gershick and Elissa Barrett

If you took part in any of the Proposition 8 rallies that followed, what stands out to you as the most memorable experience? The outstanding aspect of all the rallies was how peacefully people conducted themselves despite the affront to our civil liberties that Prop. 8 represented. Also, the size of the L.A. rallies was vastly underreported, and any negativity magnified. The L.A. Times, for instance, ran a photo of the Mormon temple march that pictured a demonstrator being handcuffed by police. The image clearly was meant to convey the character of the event as rowdy, which it was not. The downtown march, with thousands crowding the Civic Center, should have made front-page news. The sight of endless lines of people pouring out of the Red Line was unforgettable.

Would you ever consider moving to another state if it were to legalize same-sex marriage? Massachusetts and Connecticut have recognized marriage equality. But we're Californians. We're not moving, we're fighting.

Eric A. Manriquez and Juan M. Rivera

What has changed the most about your life since Proposition 8 passed in California? We are uncertain of our future as a married couple. We don't know if we will be forcibly divorced in the near future by the state of California. We have, however vowed to continue our daily fight to regain our civil rights as humans.

What do you think the logical next step is in legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the state? We think we are on the right track. The fact that there were lawsuits filed in court and that might overturn the passage of Prop. 8 should raise more awareness to all persons residing in California ,and for that matter, the union will eventually teach everyone that we are just like everyone else.

Would you ever consider moving to another state if it were to legalize same-sex marriage? At this point, we would not. We might consider moving to another country where all persons are treated the same under the law. It is amazing that in a country where there are so many liberties, there are many laws that discriminate against a few persons.

Robert and Thomas Van Etten

What was your first reaction when you found out that Proposition 8 passed on Election Day? Our first reaction was, "How much money was donated by churches (Mormon Church and American Family Association)?" There was no way we could compete with the money raised to pass Prop 8. We were devastated by how many people worked to oppose us and how many minority groups voted against us. We were hurt and deeply saddened.

What has changed the most about your life since Prop. 8 passed? What has changed most since the passage of Proposition 8 in our lives is living with the fear that a legal contract that we executed with the state of California might be made null and void by people who do not know us, do not know our stories and the fact that many of us have been in long-term, committed relationships. We have been in ours for 40 years, and people who have religious beliefs want to control our lives. We also have a great fear that legislating civil rights through the ballot box never has been used before and should not be used this time around. Prop 8 should be considered unconstitutional. If we had put to the vote civil rights for African-Americans, they would have lost too.

John Manelski and Jordan Brusso

What was your first reaction when you found out that Proposition 8 passed on Election Day? I think we were obviously shocked, but beyond that I was personally hurt. We hoped that somehow the absentee ballots would swing prop 8 our way. Then we were angry that the vote was so close. They were expecting that possibly 5% of votes would vote the wrong way because of a lack of understanding. We lost by less than that!

If you took part in any of the Proposition 8 rallies that followed, what stands out to you as the most memorable experience? We were in Austin, Texas, for the November 15 rally and joined about 700 Texans! It was good to know that people all around the country were angry and voicing that anger.

Would you ever consider moving to another state if it were to legalize same-sex marriage? Our daughter and our families are here. We are needed here to be counted among the intelligent citizens of California for the next vote on gay rights.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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