Prop. 8 plaintiffs were celebrating the Supreme Court overturning the gay marriage ban when another supported joined in on the celebration — the president.
The four plaintiffs — Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami — had launched a court challenge against the law barring same-sex couples from marrying in California. The law, which passed by a 4.6 percent margin when put before voters in 2008, changed the state’s constitution to read “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to overturn the law, at the same time striking down key components of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Their victory was shared by many people nationwide, including Barack Obama. Shortly after the ruling, Pres. Obama called the Prop. 8 plaintiffs to congratulate them.
“We’re proud of you guys, and we’re so glad,” the president said on-air on MSNBC via speaker phone. He applauded them for their courage, saying they were “helping out a whole lot of people.”
The striking down of Prop. 8 follows public sentiment. Polls show growing support for gay marriage, and many Republicans who once supported a ban on gay marriage have either backed away from the issue or even decided to support it. One of those is Rob Stutzman, campaign manager for the bill that was the predecessor to Prop. 8.
In 2000 California voters passed Prop. 22, which was virtually identical to Prop. 8, with Stutzman pushing the bill. It was overturned in the state Supreme Court, leading to the crafting of Prop. 8.
Stutzman today says he has flipped on the issue, now supporting gay marriage.
“I’ve personally become very libertarian,” Stutzman told the Los Angeles Times. “There’s too much emphasis on trying to control people’s lives with government.”
Obama elaborated on his feelings in a statement released Wednesday.
“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
Obama got a surprise during the congratulatory phone call as well. The Prop. 8 plaintiff Paul Katami invited Obama to his upcoming wedding.