LOS ANGELES—The Filipino members of the gay and lesbian community and their supporters celebrated a federal appeals court’s ruling that California’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional but they know the fight is not over.
“A lot of my gay and lesbian Filipino friends were enthusiastic,” said Noel Alumit, author and steering committee member of API Equality-LA, upon hearing the news of the ban. “We’d like the chance to dignify our relationships. We just want to be happy and not hurt anyone.”
“I think we’re all wondering what’s next,” he added. “It may go all the way to the Supreme Court. Something I’ve learned from my family is the importance of strength and endurance.”
Last Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge interpreted the US Constitution correctly in 2010 when he declared the ban, known as Proposition 8, to be a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians, reported the Associated Press.
However, the appeals court said gay marriages cannot resume in the state, until the deadline passes for Proposition 8 sponsors to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit. If such an appeal is filed, gay marriages will remain on hold until it’s resolved.
“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling states.
The Associated Press reported many backers of Prop. 8 would appeal and ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling.
“No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people,” said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8, told the AP.
“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage — tried in San Francisco — turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” he said.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights called the decision “a historic victory.”
“Every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, deserves the same dignity and respect, the same freedom to love and to marry and to build a family,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “That’s all this case is about. Not special rights or privileges, just fairness and equality.
“The message it sends to young LGBT people, not only here in California but across the country, (is) that you can’t strip away a fundamental right, and gay marriage is a fundamental right that no one can strip away,” he added. “Now that Proposition 8 has been declared unconstitutional, the people of California will very soon be able to once again realize their freedom to marry.”
Alumit said there’s still a long way to go before this issue gets resolved. He hopes the Filipino community in California can support the ban on Prop. 8.
“In California, there are a lot of Filipinos. The most outside of the Philippines,” he said. “That is probably true for gay and lesbian Filipinos also. If we gain rights in California, then the majority of Filipino gay and lesbians will probably have opportunity to start families and be happy.
“There are lots of issues we [still] need to work on,” he added. “Even if marriage is legalized in the California, it won’t apply federally. One big advantage that heterosexuals have is marrying someone who is not a citizen, but making them a citizen through marriage. If I fall in love with a foreigner and marry him, I couldn’t do anything to keep him here. There are limits to marriages recognized by the state, not the country. Ideally, the next step is to make gay marriage legal in the whole United States, but, frankly, I don’t think I’ll see that in my lifetime. Hopefully, I’ll just fall in love with someone who is already a citizen, so I don’t have to experience the pain of separation.
He said he knows of a Filipina lesbian couple who are hoping to marry soon.
“Her father is ill and is afraid he might die before seeing his daughter’s wedding,” he said. Joseph Pimentel/AJPress, with reports from AP