Rally in San Luis Obispo celebrates court’s decision to overturn Prop. 8

Tribune photo by Jayson Mellom

As least 100 people gathered on the stone steps of San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza on Wednesday to celebrate a federal judge’s decision to overturn California’s same-sex marriage ban.

Many waved marriage equality signs and donned stickers as they took to the amphitheater and surrounding grass.

“I’m cautiously hopeful,” Chris Cummings of Los Osos said. “It’s a nice change to be full of hope.”Meanwhile, supporters of Proposition 8 criticized Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling.

But if there were any Proposition 8 supporters at the event, they didn’t make their presence known. Guy Murray of Nipomo said earlier Wednesday that the many issues tied to the ruling strike an emotional chord with the public.

“A lot of people, including myself, believe marriage is between a man and a woman.” Murray, an attorney, said the judge should have upheld the will of voters when they passed Proposition 8 in November 2008.

“I … had both moral and religious and legal arguments that I felt supported the defining of marriage, basically by the sovereign will of the people,” he said.

The county can’t issue gay couples marriage licenses until the motion to stay the judge’s ruling is decided and until the ruling becomes final, county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald said.

It had first issued licenses from June through November 2008, before California voters passed Proposition 8. The county isn’t able to track the number of same-sex marriage licenses because they aren’t labeled as such in the system, officials said.

The gay marriage issue has had many pivotal moments throughout the debate.

Religious groups supporting Proposition 8 hoped California would uphold their definition of marriage. Cal Poly students have advocated for voter desires. The gay and lesbian community has gathered, vocalizing their determination to one day wed their loved ones and for civil rights. Few anti-gay marriage rallies have been held in the county.

In June 2008, joy filled the county Government Center when the first same-sex couples happily — and legally — married longtime partners.

On Wednesday, nearly a dozen people stood up when asked who in the audience married in that legal window. The county previously reported that 28 same-sex couples married on the first day it was legal.San Luis Obispo County favored the measure that passed statewide with 52 percent of the vote that November.

County election results said 51.04 percent of voters favored the ballot initiative, and 48.96 percent opposed it.

In March 2009, both sides of the issue waited as the California Supreme Court determined whether to overturn voters’ wishes in the 2008 election.

By the end of May 2009, the justice’s decision to ban same-sex marriage but uphold pre-November election weddings created a delicate mix of sadness and satisfaction on the Central Coast.

Now that the federal judge’s ruling has come, Murray said, “I think the only thing that can be said with certainty is it’s not likely to end here.”