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Nov 29th
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March for Equality

blog prideSanta Cruz Pride precedes momentous Supreme Court rulings 

During the five months between June 2008, when the Supreme Court ruled equal protection for same-sex marriage in California, and November of that same year, when Proposition 8 limited legal marriages to those between a man and woman, thousands of gay couples felt a pressing urgency to attain wedlock before Election Day.

Like so many of those couples. Bob Correa, a former director of the Santa Cruz Diversity Center, and his partner of 24 years, Denny Carroll, found themselves racing the clock. Forced to forsake visions of an exciting, proper wedding, the two found themselves standing in their garage before a minister, both terribly sick with the flu, while two friends looked on.

Today they joke about the impromptu ceremony, calling it their “drive-by, garage door wedding,” Carroll says.

But, it also reminds Carroll of the injustice that he and his partner had to face because of their sexual orientation, and it reminds him of the pivotal upcoming decisions to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), expected by the end of June.

With the future of gay rights fast approaching a decisive moment, many members of the LGBTQ community will march and stand together on Sunday, June 2 for the 39th annual Santa Cruz Pride Parade. This year’s theme is “Calling All Allies,” says Sharon Papo, the new executive director of the Santa Cruz Diversity Center.

Papo and her wife were also among the approximate 18,000 same-sex couples that obtained marriage licenses before Prop. 8 went into effect.

“This is a chance for everyone to stand together in unity as we eagerly await this huge decision that will impact so many of our lives,” she says. “It’s a visible and political demand for LBGT rights and equality.”

However, Papo notes, there is a chance the court could decline to even rule on the matter.

“It’s all very anxiety-causing, but we’re also optimistic,” she says.

If the Supreme Court strikes down Prop. 8, California will become the 12th state, plus Washington DC, to legalize gay marriage.

If Prop. 8 is upheld, Carroll says it will be a mournful day for same couples, but he is more concerned about DOMA, which has national implications on gay rights, including government employee insurance benefits, social security survivor benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns, he says.

“There are so many people who are deeply in love and want to make the legal commitment of marriage but they can’t here in California,” says Papo. “So, they’re being held as second-class citizens. They want to be able to marry here, and they want their relationship and commitment to be acknowledged by their communities, friends, loved ones—and the government.”

The Santa Cruz Pride Parade and Festival takes place Sunday, June 2. The parade will be from 11-11:30 a.m along Pacific Avenue between Cathcart and Cooper streets. The accompanying festival takes place 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the northern end of Pacific Avenue between Locust Street and the Clock Tower.

Photo of 2012 Pride parade by Sal Ingram.

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