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Chicago LGBT Leaders React To California Ruling On Marriage Law

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago LGBT leaders are reacting Tuesday to the ruling in California that overturned Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage in the Golden State and took away the right after it had already been granted.

CBS San Francisco reports a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. The court ruled 2-1 to uphold the decision of a lower court judge.

READ THE COMPLETE CALIFORNIA RULING

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling stated.

But the ruling does not mean same-sex marriages will resume in California right away. Prop 8 supporters are expected to appeal to the full, 11-judge 9th Circuit Court, and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court, CBS San Francisco reported.

On Tuesday morning, the Chicago Phoenix published reactions to the ruling from some of the Chicago area’s leading LGBT leaders, many of whom expressed hope that full marriage equality would come to Illinois before too long.

Activist Rick Garcia, who was one of the leaders in the push for a Chicago ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, said he was “thrilled” with the ruling, the Phoenix reported.

But he went on to say Illinois is “very chauvinistic” and does not follow the lead of other states when it comes to major changes in social policy. Still, Garcia said in the Phoenix, the overturning of Prop 8 will help Illinois residents understand the issue better.

“When people see another ruling in our favor, it will be another opportunity for discussion for people and it will help to continue to develop their understanding of the topic,” Garcia said in the Phoenix. “It is really symbolic and it adds to the movement towards equal marriage in Illinois.”

Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said in the Phoenix that the ruling reaffirms that same-sex couples should have equal protection, and “this is just one more step that shows the momentum is in our direction.”

Bernard Cherkasov, chief executive officer of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, said the ruling will serve as important legal precedent.

“With this ruling, political leaders who support full equality will have important arguments to share with state legislators who will inevitably be asked to vote on full marriage rights in the future,” Cherkasov said in the Phoenix. “Lawmakers need not wait for the ultimate disposition of the California case and other legal rulings to do the right thing in Springfield and Washington, D.C. to end marriage discrimination.”

Cherkasov said in the Phoenix that while Equality Illinois supports civil unions, which are now legal in Illinois, they do not go far enough in guaranteeing equal rights.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, said in the publication that it was particularly important that the California decision was made on 14th Amendment grounds.

“Although this ruling does not affect our laws in Illinois, it is still very significant for Illinoisans, in that it will only aid our progress toward full and equal civil rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation,” Martinez said in the Phoenix.

ChicagoPride.com also published a statement by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who was the city’s first openly gay alderman when he was elected in 2003. He said he hopes “this sets some serious precedent nationwide.”

The State of Illinois still bans same-sex marriage by statute. But last year, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples.

Full same-sex marriage rights are currently available in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa and the District of Columbia. Same-sex marriage was also approved in California after a state Supreme Court decision in June 2008, but that decision was overturned by Prop 8 five months later.

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