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Prop 8 overturned, LGBT community celebrates

Warm hugs and rainbow flags were the norm Wednesday night as hundreds gathered in Bixby Park to celebrate the federal judgement striking down California’s Proposition 8.

Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the federal district court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that the ban on same-sex marriage, approved by Californian voters by a 52 percent majority in 2008, did not stand up against the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Prop 8 supporters have vowed to appeal the decision, which is expected to move through the higher courts.

In Long Beach, representatives from The Center, Lambda Legal, shOUT Long Beach and other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender organizations presented speakers in the park beginning at 6 p.m., near the corner of Junipero Ave. and Broadway Ave. As the sun waned, community members took photos and chatted with friends while cheering on the speakers.

Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal said that as she and fellow same-sex marriage supporters have fought for marriage rights, they have adhered to the saying “nothing more and nothing less,” meaning that only marriage, not domestic partnerships, would suffice.

“Today the courts affirmed that, but its just another step in a long and arduous road,” Lowenthal said. “This will make history … As the city of Long Beach goes, so will the state of California.”

Long Beach is known for its significant LGBT population and for having one of the largest gay pride events in the country. Alamitos Beach, an area known as the Broadway Corridor, is home to several gay bars and gay-friendly businesses. Bixby Park has hosted gay pride events, as well as previous rallies in opposition of Proposition 8.

During the rally, same-sex parents spoke about the importance of legally recognized marriage for gay and lesbian couples. President of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club Cory Allen said he was thankful to the older generation of LGBT activists, and was proud to represent a younger generation continuing their work.

“I promise you that we as a young generation will carry that flag on,” he said.

Others also mentioned the role of Long Beach youth in political activism. Annie Parkhurst is the founder of the AMP Organization, a Long Beach-based group promoting culture and creativity in the LGBT community.

“We have so much energy,” she said. “I’m not a fancy politician. I don’t have a speech prepared … The youth in Long Beach are creative, talented and smart. I’m so happy to have them as part of the fight for marriage [equality].”

Wednesday’s rally had no pro-Proposition 8 demonstrators.

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