Locals react to gay marriage ruling

GLENDALE — Emotions flared Tuesday in Glendale and Burbank after the California Supreme Court upheld a gay marriage ban approved by voters in November.

Voters last year narrowly approved Proposition 8, amending the state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and woman, but only after about 18,000 same-sex couples had said their vows.

The court’s ruling on legal challenges of the ban upheld Proposition 8 and will prevent future same-sex unions.

Glendale residents Antoinette Palazzola and Carole Valenzuela, who married in June, will remain legally wed, as will the other couples who tied the not during a brief period when same-sex unions were permitted following an appellate court decision.

But although Palazzola’s marriage will remain valid, she found Tuesday’s ruling troubling because it would limit other same-sex couples who wanted to benefit form the rights of a union.

“It’s a piece of paper, but to take that away from gay people is wrong,” she said. “I think it’s morally wrong and I just think god would accept any marriage as long as it’s to do with love.”

Proponents of Proposition 8 were heartened by the court’s ruling, which they said protected the sanctity of marriage and jived with the will of citizens.

There are other options for same-sex couples wanting to spend their lives together, said Pastor Jon Barta of Valley Baptist Church in Burbank, explaining that domestic partnerships for gay couples is legal.

“Its not like there’s absolutely no provision for homosexual couples,” Barta said. “For me what it looks like is they want to redefine marriage and I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The continuing controversy over same-sex unions prompted anticipation from both sides that the issue would face voters again in upcoming elections.

“Frankly, I don’t believe it is over,” said La Crescenta resident Robin Johnson, who has been at the Crescenta Valley Town Council in opposition to gay marriage.

Pastor John Jackson of Glendale’s Church of the Brethren, who supports “loving covenants,” regardless of sexual orientation, hoped the law would gain clarity in the future.

“That ruling to me seems somewhat convoluted,” Jackson said. “If they’re going to allow it then they need to allow it. It seems like a halfway measure to me.”

Supporters of gay marriage have gradually gained traction with voters, which could lead to the unions’ legalization during an upcoming election cycle, Center for Governmental Studies president Bob Stern said.

Californians overwhelmingly opposed same-sex unions in 2000, with 61% of voters opting to limit marriage as being between a man and a woman, but since then the political landscape has shifted dramatically, Stern said.

Just 52% of voters supported Proposition 8 in November, representing a sharp drop in statewide opposition to gay marriage that could bode well for same-sex couples, Stern said.

“That is a truly seismic shift in public opinion so I think that time is on their side,” he said.

Changing voter demographics will play a large role in future efforts to legalize gay marriage, he said.

While two-thirds of voters over 65 supported the gay marriage ban in November, two-thirds of voters under 35 opposed Proposition 8, he said. As more young citizens emerge into the voting ranks, the scales could tip in favor of gay marriage supporters, he said.

“It’s a short-term defeat for them,” Stern said.

--Mary O'Keefe contributed to this report.

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