The battle for or against Proposition 8 continues

Jamie and Susana Garza, center, pose for a photo with Jamie’s two daughters Dina Richie, left, and Kristan Richie, right, in front of their Porterville home on Friday. Jamie and Susana Garza were the first same-sex couple married in Tulare County on

Tuesday’s historic elections are over, but the controversy over Proposition 8 is not.

About 10.2 million votes were cast Tuesday, of which 52 percent approved defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Language of Prop. 8 includes the phrase, “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.”

Porterville citizens reflect the differences in opinion expressed nationwide on the volatile issue.

Mary Culver cast a ‘yes’ vote on the ballot.

“I voted yes because I believe in separation of church and state,” Culver said. “In this case, if the proposition didn’t pass, if a gay couple came to a minister to get married, it could affect the nonprofit status of the church, depending on how the state enforced the law. How it would have been enforced is not clear.

“For example, what if [a gay couple] wanted to be married in the Catholic church because they like the building, and the priest turns them away because of the church’s stand. That could result in a lawsuit. I’m ecstatic [the proposition passed], because that keeps my church intact ... my beliefs will be honored in my place of worship.”

Prop. 8 won overwhelming support in Tulare County, with 75 percent of those casting ballots backing the constitutional amendment.

Lawsuits, three of them, have already been filed because Prop. 8 turned out to be the will of the people in this election.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed one suit.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed a joint lawsuit, and Civil Rights Attorney Gloria Allred filed one on behalf of lesbian clients married in Los Angeles.

Prop. 8 amends the California state constitution to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman, which overturns a recent California Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriages as a “fundamental right.”

During the time the law was recognized, on June 17, the first day it was allowed by law, Jamie and Susana Garza of Porterville were the first same-sex couple married in Tulare County.

The couple is involved in a march for equality and justice that will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday at College of the Sequoias in Visalia.

“[Proposition 8] passed, and what’s funny is I found out my vote hasn’t even been counted yet,” Jamie Garza said. “About [three] million absentee votes have yet to be counted, but I think the likelihood that it’s not going to pass is very slim. We’ve all accepted that, but even though we may have lost this battle we will continue the fight.

“Right now we want to get the message out that we’re not giving up, we’ve been fighting for this way too long to just throw in the towel. We want people to see us as human beings. In California there is a diverse group of people that believe this was a discriminatory proposition ... regardless of our differences we’re all human beings, and our lives have value.”

Culver didn’t dispute the value of the lives of those involved in same-sex marriages. The genesis of her discontent on the issue is in the realm of legalities, she said.

“It was illegal for the judges of California to change something the voters voted on,” Culver said. “How did they get away with something that’s illegal? This is a democracy, our votes are supposed to count. Those judges should be disbarred.

“More citizens should stand up, because, if [the judges] could do this what else are they going to change that we citizens vote on?”

-- Contact Anita Stackhouse-Hite at 784-5000, Ext. 1043, or astackhouse-hite@portervillerecorder.com.

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