San Francisco – Today, federal district court judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California’s Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution in denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Civil rights and advocacy groups, including Asian and Pacific Islander (API) organizations and leaders, praised the judge’s decision. Today’s win is particularly gratifying for the API community who has been at the forefront of efforts to gain marriage equality both in California and nationally.
“API Equality–LA and our partner, API Equality–Northern California, applaud the judge’s meticulous and carefully reasoned decision that Proposition 8 violates the basic constitutional rights of lesbian and gay couples,” said Doreena Wong, Co-Chair of API Equality–LA. “The judge’s conclusions add to the growing consensus in courts and legislatures across the country that no good reasons exist for continuing to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Instead, the evidence and legal arguments showed that Proposition 8 harms loving gay and lesbian couple and their families, while helping no one,” added Heidi Li, API Equality–Northern California Steering Committee Member.
Judge Walker’s decision is important to Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) in California, where the more than 66,000 APIs who identify as gay or lesbian comprise the largest community of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) APIs in the United States, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
“Victories like today’s decision inspire important conversations about the harms of discrimination and the need for equality under law for all people,” said Tawal Panyacosit, Director of API Equality–Northern California. “But, we cannot rest on our laurels. These critical dialogues must continue, as we must also speak to the many other ways LGBTQI APIs are harmed by injustice, like Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, a same-sex Filipina couple who face continued threat of separation due to an unfair immigration system. We know from our years of work educating the API community about these issues that it is these discussions within our own communities that changes hearts and minds.”
Added Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, Director of API Equality–LA, “All across the nation, APIs have played an integral role in advancing the right of same-sex couples to marry–as plaintiffs, judges and witnesses in legal cases and as elected and community leaders in the court of public opinion. APIs personally know the history and impact of marriage discrimination and today, we cheer Judge Walker’s decision as being on the right side of history, where discrimination is overcome by justice and fairness.”
Tawal Panyacosit, Director, API Equality–Northern California – (415) 516-3562
Jonipher Kwong, Director, API Equality–LA – (213) 249-1551
API Equality–Northern California is a coalition of Asian Pacific Islander (API) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) organizations and individuals serving Northern California. API Equality–Northern California is dedicated to empowering community members, advancing civil rights protections, and promoting respect and understanding for cultural and community diversity. API Equality–Northern California’s mission is twofold:
- To reduce and eliminate prejudice and oppression based on gender and/or sexual orientation in the diverse ethnic communities of the API populace; and
- To combat and eliminate racial-based or xenophobic prejudice and oppression in the LGBTQI community
API Equality–LA is a coalition of organizations and individuals who are committed to working in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities in Greater Los Angeles for equal marriage rights and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families through community education and advocacy.