July 10 2013 08:26 AM

There's lots to celebrate this weekend in Hillcrest

DOMA rally 4
A boy at last month's rally supporting the Supreme Court's rulings
Photo by Peter Holslin

Not all of us, but some members of our staff are not too keen on parades or big crowds. Maybe it's a product of our advancing years, but we just don't have the tolerance we once had for being crammed in small spaces with lots of people.

But just try to keep us away from the San Diego Pride Parade in Hillcrest on Saturday, July 13. Just try it. We dare you. We'll be there with a spot in the parade, representing CityBeat, walking alongside a convoy of four Fiats from Kearny Mesa Fiat. We've participated in it before, sure, but never with the joy and pride we've felt toward San Diego's LGBT community since June 26, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and concluded that proponents of California's Prop. 8—which banned same-sex marriages—had no standing to appeal a lower-court's previous ruling that overturned the law.

Yes, June 26 was a momentous day, and Hillcrest will be rockin' this weekend.

The occasion prompts us to reflect on what's happened with LGBT rights during the 11 years CityBeat's been publishing. In that time, marriage equality became the civil-rights issue of this era, a landmark period for the American-history books. It's hard to believe now that it was just 13 years ago that Vermont became the first state to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy prohibition, and in 2004, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage six months after that state's Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. By 2006, civil unions were recognized in Connecticut and New Jersey. Clearly, the road to equality began in the Northeast.

Things really got cooking in 2008, when a New York appeals court ruled that employers in the state had to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, domestic partnerships were established in Oregon, Connecticut became the second state to legalize same-sex marriage and same-sex couples started getting married in California after the Supreme Court here ruled that it was their constitutional right to do so.

The thing about tipping points, however, is that the thing that's tipping sometimes tips back and forth; 2008 also saw a backlash, with California (in response to the earlier court ruling), Arizona and Florida voters passing measures banning same-sex marriage.

In 2009, an Iowa law banning same-sex marriage was struck down and Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage, although Maine voters later banned it at the ballot box. The same year, President Obama allowed same-sex partners of federal employees to receive some benefits and Nevada legalized domestic partnerships.

In 2010, same-sex marriage was legalized in the District of Columbia, a federal judge in California ruled that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional and the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was repealed. In 2011, New York legalized same-sex marriage and Illinois and Hawaii legalized civil unions. In 2012, Washington and Maryland legalized same-sex marriage, Maine swung back again and legalized it and Obama announced that his thinking had evolved and he was now a supporter of same-sex marriage.

This year, Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage, Colorado legalized civil unions and numerous Republicans across the country have come out in favor of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

To recap, in just nine years' time, 13 states—plus D.C.—legalized same-sex marriage and six others officially recognized partnerships. Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act have been defeated, and for the first time in history, a sitting U.S. president endorsed marriage between same-sex couples.

We've long since known that it was just a matter of time, as bigotry against the LGBT community has gradually died off with older generations. Public-opinion polls now show majority support for marriage equality. Twenty-nine states expressly forbid same-sex marriage, but those dominoes will begin to fall. Legal action has been initiated to get same-sex marriage recognized in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia. We expect Oregon voters to legalize marriage equality in 2014.

We're proud to say we've been on the right side of history all along, and, on Saturday, we'll be gushing with respect for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and questioning friends and neighbors for what they've achieved. See you there.

What do you think? Write to editor@sdcitybeat.com.


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