Motions to marry: Prop 8’s last stand at the Ninth Circuit

On Thursday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard the final hearings of this stage of the Prop 8 case, a motion to release video of the original District Court trial and another motion to vacate that court’s decision because Judge Vaughn Walker was gay and in a long-term relationship.

Just before the hearings there was a rally outside the courthouse, where Thom and I spoke along with several other marriage equality advocates we’ve come to know over the last few years.

Here’s a loose recollection of what I said (based on my talking points I had scribbled on Post-It notes):

Hello, my name is Jeff Tabaco, and this is my partner, Thom Watson. We have been together for over eight years. We became domestic partners in 2009 and had a commitment ceremony later that year. What I want more than anything in the world is to marry this man.

But I can’t. Not here in San Francisco, in the city I was born. Not in my own home state of California. I am a proud Californian, a proud American. But I will be a prouder Californian, a prouder American — a more equal American — when the judgment striking down Prop 8 is upheld, when our rights are restored, and when I can marry the person I love.

Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” That’s what we’re fighting for, what everyone — gay, straight, and in between — should be fighting for: dignity and equal rights for all.

We are on the side of love. We are on the side of the law. And we are on the right side of history.

I’m happy to see a lot of familiar faces here today, and the joke is that we have to stop meeting like this. We’ll come to as many rallies and hearings as we have to to get our rights back. I know the next time we gather like this, it will be to celebrate a ruling upholding marriage equality for all.

Any day now the Ninth Circuit could rule on any or all of the issues before it (standing of the Proponents, these motions to release the video and to vacate the decision, and the underlying constitutional merits), but the word seems to be it could be as soon as later this month or early next year. The commentaries I’ve read also suggest that the court will deny the motion to vacate, but may find it difficult to grant the motion to release the trial video. We shall wait and see.

See also:

  • The photo above is by our friend, wedding photographer, and continuing documentarian of the marriage equality cause, Julie Bernstein. For more, see her “Motions to Marry” rally photos.
  • Videos of the Ninth Circuit hearings have been published: Hearing 1 (motion to release trial video) and Hearing 2 (motion to vacate).

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