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California community reacts to Prop. 8 trial
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California community reacts to Prop. 8 trial

by Ryan Burr - Special to the SGN

The 'It Feels Better When You're Married' signs were numerous outside San Francisco's federal courtroom on January 11 as Gay-rights supporters met for a sunrise vigil marking the start of a high-stakes federal lawsuit seeking a constitutional right for same-sex marriage.

Plenty of ordinary citizens and those from the legal, faith and political community huddled in front of the courthouse. Later in th

e day, a lone man could be seen donning a 'Yes On 8 Forever' sign in the same area. Gene Blossom and Paul Matzner, both in their 60s and who identify as Gay men who have recently become friends, watched the trial on January 12. They are pleased to see the movement gaining so much momentum in recent years, though Matzner believes it will be tough winning the case at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"At least one of the conservative justices will have to be replaced" for a five-vote majority to determine a constitutional right exists for same-sex couples to marry, Matzner said.

The two men, who both live in Berkeley now, have been politically active since the 1960s. Matzner, who says he was raised in a liberal, Democratic household, demonstrated in the Bay Area against Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign of the 1970s as part of Bay Area Gay Liberation.

"Our effort was stronger because we elicited the support of other groups with whom we had some common causes, like the labor movement," Matzner said.

Blossom still has political buttons from around that time, when an initiative to ban Gays from serving as teachers was proposed. He also participated in the Bay Area Gay Liberation.

Matzner said it took him some time to conclude that Ted Olson, a conservative legal voice from the Bush administration, was genuine in his intent to fight for Gay couples' right to wed.

For Blossom, such conversion is nothing new. "At the end of the Barry Goldwater campaign, which I worked on, Barry embraced Gay rights. I was a screwed-up teenage Republican back then," he recalled.

One of the main points of contention in the federal trial is that domestic partnerships fail to bring same-sex couples all the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Frank and Joe Capley-Alfano were at the courthouse this week, and they quickly pointed out to media that, by their estimates, they paid $4,520 more in taxes last year because of differences in how the state and federal government views their relationship versus married straight couples.

They live in San Francisco and have been registered domestic partners for five years.

The community will no doubt continue to react as the trial moves forward in the coming weeks.

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