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Gay Marriage Legalized in N.Y., Belmont Shore Reacts

Residents of Los Angeles County’s Second Largest Gay Community Respond in Belmont Heights with Mixed Emotions.

Members of the Belmont Shore LGBT community reflected on gay rights in California this week after New York legislators passed the Marriage Equality bill on Friday, making it the sixth state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay rights supporters interviewed in Belmont Heights said Tuesday that the same-sex marriage law was cause to rejoice, but they couldn't help but wonder, when is it California’s turn? 

Ken Davis, owner of the gay-friendly coffee shop “Hot Java” on Broadway and Junipero in Belmont Heights, said New York’s gay marriage ruling made him “look back at what happened in California,” referring to almost three years ago, when 52.24% of California voters voted yes on Prop. 8, leading to the ban of same-sex marriage in the state.

On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Prop. 8, but a stay issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit prevented any further same-sex marriages from taking place pending an appeal of Walker’s ruling.

California is home to the largest gay population in the nation with more than 1.3 million gay residents, according to the 2000 American Community Survey. Long Beach, just trailing behind West Hollywood, has the second largest gay population in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

“I don’t get it,” said Gregg Curwick, 51, sitting at a table outside Hot Java Tuesday, referring the majority vote. For a state with such a prominent gay population, many gay residents feel it has taken far too long to get the stay lifted. Frustration and confusion has built up among California LGBT communities. The state court may hear oral arguments regarding the appeal of Walker’s ruling starting this September.

Curwick recalled that when he first came out as gay, the 1978 California Proposition 6 had just “come in.” It eventually failed largely thanks to the No on 6 Campaign, he said, but if it had passed, it would have banned openly gay and lesbian staff and possibly anyone who supported gay rights from working in California public schools. “We’re still fighting the same fight," Curwick added. "The question is why? Why [are gay rights] still such an issue?”

Patrick Condon, 59, who accompanied Curwick, said the New York Marriage Equality bill was smart to explicitly include a protection that would prevent losses of benefits from or lawsuits against churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples. This kind of explicit protection could’ve helped preserve gay marriage in California, as one of the leading arguments of the Yes on 8 Campaign claimed that “Churches may have their tax exempt status challenged or revoked if they publicly oppose same-sex marriage or refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public.”

Condon said he hopes that more states will follow New York’s example and legalize same-sex marriage.

Ignoring the religious implications of marriage, however, it is simply a contract, said Curwick, adding: “Marriages are contract cases, not religious cases.”

Davis said that equality won’t be known until gay marriage is federally recognized. “I hope it will be federal in my lifetime,” he said as he finished his egg and sausage bagel sandwich and neared the end of his lunch break. “I know it will.”

Editor's Note: Brian Dinh is among a team of UC Irvine Literary Journalism students or graduates working this summer for Belmont Shore-Naples Patch

Panglonymous June 29, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Nice piece, Brian. I assume you are in your early twenties? I'd be interested in your perspective on something: Does the progress toward social equality the gay community has made in the last fifty years seem substantial, i.e., a lot in a relatively short period of time? Is it accelerating, decelerating, or static, would you say? Thanks -Pan
Panglonymous June 30, 2011 at 04:40 AM
I shouldn't limit this to Brian. Anyone under thirty. (I know what you old monkeys think. You are soooooo predictable. ;-) Re-form the questions any way you like. Twist 'em up like a pretzel. Answer your own questions. Hell, ask *me* one.
Cindi Rogan June 30, 2011 at 06:58 PM
The coffee shop Hot Java is not in Belmont Heights. It is technicalyl in Bluff Park or even more accurately Bluff Park Heights. The border of Belmont Hieghts ends at Loma one block east of Redondo.. Just FYI... :)
Nancy Woo June 30, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Pan, good question. I'll take a stab, though I've only been around for 22 of those 50 years, and probably only nearing sentience for the last ten. It seems to me to be slow but steady progress. I have no doubt that eventually banning gay marriage will be recognized as unconstitutional, the same way that all sorts of human rights have been won in the U.S. in the past century. If we are truly operating under a separation of church and state and a right to life, liberty and happiness, it's only a matter of time that gay marriage will be recognized under federal law. But it does seem very slow. It wasn't even until 1967, almost 50 years ago, that marriage was legalized for people of different races in the Loving vs. Virginia supreme court case, and this was after centuries of African-Americans struggling in the U.S. If now, in 2011 New York has become the 6th state to legalize gay marriage, it does seem quite slow but still moving forward rather than backward (California's approval of Prop 8 seemed a shocking step backward, however). I perceive that the issue is moving forward at a snail's pace, but still moving. And going about the game state by state I think enhances that feeling, because it makes the road to go seem so long - only 44 states left!
Nancy Wride (Editor) June 30, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Cindi, you are right. I tend to reach wider than the Shore because things like The Art Theatre and Wilson High are outside of it but have strong connections or, say, Fremont, Heights students go there though it isn't technically Heights, is it? But many or most Patches cover whole cities and the new team members are new here, so Brian was told by a local that it was in the Heights. Thanks for the note....
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Thanks for responding, Nancy, well said. I look forward to your generation bringing something truly new to our culture. My generation will do everything in its power to make sure that that will not occur. You've got a hell of a fight ahead of you. Stay strong. :-) I'm just going to think out loud for a bit, which I hope will serve as a response to your comment and to open up a conversation more generally. Who knows if that will happen. This Patch can be pretty quiet.
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 05:49 AM
1 Thanks for responding, Nancy, well said. I look forward to your generation bringing something truly new to our culture. My generation will do everything in its power to make sure that that will not occur. You've got a hell of a fight ahead of you. Stay strong. :-) I'm just going to think out loud for a bit, which I hope will serve as a response to your comment and to open up a conversation more generally. Who knows if that will happen. This Patch can be pretty quiet. (cont)
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 05:50 AM
2 Time is interesting. There is fighting the fight for change in one's own lifetime. There is fighting for change one knows one will never personally benefit by - but that one's children, or future members of one's affinity group, will. How urgent is the need for change? For someone facing a military draft, for instance, the imminent prospect of dying meaninglessly in battle makes it very urgent. For someone facing a viable future, but a future deprived of the human rights to which one should be entitled, urgent, but less urgent, I think. I'd say as a people we are only becoming more impatient. Whether we as a people are, generation by generation, becoming increasingly capable of handling rapid change constructively remains to be seen. I mean change that does not benefit one personally. Change that might actually crowd one's own sense of entitlement or privilege. Because people also compete for *advantage* through change. I'm thinking the great majority of gay people are white. Being white, they have enjoyed the *practical possibility* (an advantage) of being able to pass for a member of the privileged group - white, heterosexual. If you are three-quarters white, and one-quarter non-white, and the non-white is what people *see*, you don't enjoy that practical possibility, that advantage, of passing for a member of the privileged group, whatever your sexual orientation. (cont)
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 05:51 AM
3 So, thinking of black rights, and women's rights, movements that were roughly contemporaneous with gay rights, I'd say male gay rights have moved most substantially and *stuck*. Women's rights, somewhat less so. And black rights, the least of the three. But if you are a white, heterosexual woman, the rights you are fighting for are more *individual*, as you already belong to the privileged group. The right to *independently* enjoy rights everyone deserves. Many (most?) gay couples enjoy an economic advantage as well: two-incomes, no kids. Greater disposable income. To enjoy. And invest. And deploy, to those political causes one supports. So, socio-economically, white, gay males may have achieved the greatest, and most durable, progress of all out-groups. Is gay marriage the cherry on the top? Once achieved federally, aside from defending the ground they will have won, will they then deploy their formidable organizations to help lift those other out-groups whose progress has lagged? This is what I'm thinking. Anyone think any of it holds? (end)
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 05:52 AM
4 p.s. Apropos to retrenchment of women's rights, I found this article by Julie Flores over at the MV Patch provocative: "Three Cheers for a Criminal? -- A Texas high school cheerleader who had been raped is kicked off the squad when she refuses to cheer for one of the boys convicted of a lesser charge in the attack. Then she's ordered to pay the school's legal fees when she fights back." http://missionviejo.patch.com/articles/three-cheers-for-a-criminal The links she provides at the end of the piece (which informed it) especially so. Check it out.
Nancy Wride (Editor) July 01, 2011 at 06:47 AM
This sounds like a bad Lifetime movie. I think its quiet because people are plotting how to escape traffic like today.
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Yes, like life imitating not-art, or something. :-\ Ever since John G brought the term "crickets" onto the site, it's gotten worse. You should ask for restitution.
John B. Greet July 01, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I am nothing if not contributory...
Nancy Wride (Editor) July 01, 2011 at 06:26 PM
The comments were down almost the whole day, but I actually think this is one of the talkier sites, for which I'm grateful.
Panglonymous July 01, 2011 at 06:58 PM
John B. Greet 11:03am on Friday, July 1, 2011 I am nothing if not contributory... ---- Absolutely, John, there was this chain hanging from your pocket and I couldn't help but yank it. :-) Comments are *still* down if you try to respond to another comment using the button attached to it (or to the mother of a sub-thread.) Near as I can tell, you just have to use the box at the *bottom* of the thread - then your comment will appear on the thread, and in the shoutbox/comment stream on the front page. Use the front page shoutbox directly and your comment goes into the comment history in your profile, but does not appear on the front page stream. It should be called "note to self" as it currently functions... (is tech stuff not the deadliest dull stuff on God's green earth? oy.)
Panglonymous July 30, 2011 at 09:38 PM
"...it boils down to this: Is the point of the gay struggle to say we are essentially the same as straight people or is it to say we are different and glad to be so..." The Johann Hari Podcast: the hidden history of homosexuality in America http://www.mixcloud.com/TheIndependent/the-johann-hari-podcast-episode-23-the-hidden-history-of-homosexuality-in-america/ (click the white triangle in the green circle to play)
Panglonymous October 03, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Does the progress toward social equality the gay community has made in the last fifty years seem substantial, i.e., a lot in a relatively short period of time? Is it accelerating, decelerating, or static, would you say? (from the first comment in this thread.) 'Two years ago, I stood at this podium, in this room, before many of you, and I made a pledge. I said I would never counsel patience; that it wasn't right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell African Americans to be patient in the fight for equal rights a half century ago. 'But what I also said, that while it might take time -- more time than anyone would like -- we are going to make progress, we are going to succeed, we are going to build a more perfect union.' --Barack Obama - 10/1/11 'He really has been an incredible champion for the issues that are important to us. It's fair to say we've made more progress in the past two years than we have in the past 40 years combined.' -- Fred Sainz, VP communications, Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization - 10/1/11 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2044249/Obama-slams-GOP-candidates-stood-silent-gay-soldier-Steven-Hill-booed.html John Aravosis Vs. Fred Sainz On Obama Playing Politics With Gay Rights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omxo_q32zRs Gay Marriage Ban Like Interracial Marriage Ban http://belmontshore.patch.com/articles/gay-marriage-ban-like-interracial-marriage-ban-2

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