gay_cityhall_gavel.jpgMarriage equality supporters throughout the Bay Area will be gathering in San Francisco and Martinez on Valentine’s Day to protest the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Several dozen same-sex couples, accompanied by supporters, will be asking for marriage licenses at City Hall as a way to expose the discrimination organizers say Proposition 8 re-imposed on Californians.

Proposition 8, enacted by voters as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, mandates that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.”

The measure overturned a May 2008 California Supreme Court decision that said the state Constitution provided the right to gay and lesbian marriage.

A lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 was filed by Kris Perry and Sandy Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo of Burbank.

In August, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the measure violated the plaintiffs’ federal constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process.

Defenders of Proposition 8 filed an appeal, and Walker’s ruling was put on hold during the appeal process.

During the Valentine’s Day protest in San Francisco, same-sex couples plan to sit down after they are denied marriage licenses as “a way to reaffirm our position that the Prop 8 advocates have no standing in this lawsuit,” Marriage Equality USA Media Director Molly McKay said.

“As we cheer on our heterosexual fellow citizens who are able to marry on this wonderful day of love, we will remind the world that falling in love and the desire to marry the person you love is a universal sentiment and that all citizens should have the freedom to marry the one they love,” McKay said.

She said she and her wife, Davina Kotulski, exchanged marriage vows at a ceremony with family and friends in 1998.

In 2000, the couple became registered domestic partners, and in 2004 they got married. That license, however, was later invalidated. The couple married again in 2008 and then held their breaths when voters passed Proposition 8, McKay said.

This time their license remained valid in California, but “the door to marriage slammed shut behind us,” McKay said. Their marriage is still not recognized in most other states, and it is not recognized federally, she said.

“We want everyone to experience the security and partnership that Davina and I enjoy,” McKay said.

The rally will begin at 11 a.m. on the steps of City Hall at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Plaza.

A second rally will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Contra Costa County Clerk’s office at 555 Escobar St. in Martinez.

Ironically, the man charged with overseeing the office, Clerk-Recorder Stephen Weir, and his partner were the first gay couple to get married in Contra Costa County in June 2008.

“This is our seventh annual marriage counter-action in Contra Costa County,” said Leslie Stewart, Contra Costa chapter leader for Marriage Equality USA.

“Valentine’s Day is a day that many couples feel is a special day to get married–we agree, and we come to the clerk’s office to celebrate those who can get married and emphasize the discrimination that stands in the way of everyone having an equal right to a civil marriage license.”

Caitilin McAdoo, Bay City News

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