Los Angeles – API Equality – LA and API Equality – Northern California applaud today’s Supreme Court ruling(s), which affirm(s) a 2010 Federal District Court decision finding that Proposition 8 violates the basic constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. (and strike down 1996 DOMA).
Marshall Wong, co-chair of API Equality-LA’s steering committee states, “This is a historic day both for thousands of loving gay and lesbian couples and their families, and for our whole Asian American community, which has always valued family unity and equality.”
API Equality-Northern California Executive Director Monna Wong states: ”This is a victory for all Californians. After over 5 years of uncertainty and turmoil over Prop 8, which affected the lives of thousands and called into question the values of our state, today’s decision will once and for all establish the standard for equality in California.”
For Genevieve Tan and Michelle Soliman, a Filipino-Chinese couple who celebrated their union in a commitment ceremony over a year ago, the opportunity to marry is a long-awaited dream.
Genevieve, 31, says, “People feel that domestic partnership is the same thing as marriage without the label, but Michelle and I are constantly reminded that our relationship is not recognized as equal — whether it’s the thousands of extra dollars we pay each year in taxes for health insurance, or the fear as prospective parents that we will have to navigate through complicated legal issues to protect our family. This holds very personal implications for us, so we are excited that Prop 8 and DOMA have been removed as barriers before us.”
For Charlie Gu and his partner Craig Bowie, the freedom to marry is not only an equal opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment with each other. As a binational couple, today’s decision paves the way for a long-term solution for the threat of separation they have faced for years. The ability to get married in CA and then to have that marriage recognized by the Federal government will enable Charlie to attain permanent legal status as a married spouse. “Like tens of thousands of other binational couples, we just want to plan our life together,” said Charlie, “The stability and security of marriage and legal immigration status opens the door to so many beautiful possibilities for our future.”
Members of the Asian and Pacific Islander faith community affirmed support for the decision, as Reverend Nori Ochi explains, “Marriage is about love and commitment. Where love abides, God abides as well. We are all the same in the eyes of God; we should treat all people in a similar fashion. I believe gays and lesbians should have the same dignity of marrying the one they love.”
Community leaders like Karin Wang, long-time member of API Equality-LA and Vice President of Programs and Communications at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Los Angeles, formerly known as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, remind us that, “Today’s Supreme Court decision takes an important [a huge] step towards ensuring our country lives up to its promise of equality and fairness for all. As a community that has faced historic abrogation of our civil rights, like anti-miscegenation laws and wartime internment, Asian Americans will celebrate this decision as advancing civil rights for not just gays and lesbians, but for all of our communities.”
API Equality-LA Executive Director, Eileen Ma also notes, “This is a huge victory. This ruling will inspire people to support full equality in all states and in all our communities. Legal policies and rulings are meaningful when you and I put them in practice. We hope many more will join us in our efforts to build acceptance and understanding to make sure everyone’s lives are truly free of inequality and unfairness.”
Today’s decision will affect many members of the API community. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, there are 66,000 Asian and Pacific Islander people who identify as gay or lesbian in California. The court’s decision upholds the principle of equal protection in the Constitution and affirms that the LGBT community must be treated fairly under the law like other protected communities.
API Equality-LA is an LA-based grassroots coalition advancing civil rights and fair treatment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Asian/Pacific Islander communities. www.apiequalityla.org.
API Equality-Northern California works at the intersections of the Asian Pacific Islander and LGBTQ communities to transform people, practices, and policies to make the world an equitable and safe place for everyone. www.apiequalitync.org