By Diana Martinez | Editor
The Gay community, friends and family are still celebrating last week’s Supreme Court decision to recognize gay marriage nationwide. Profile photos covered in rainbows filled the walls of Facebook pages.
“O.K., we can all stop being gay now,” one supporter joked about the all the photos that are, a week later, still covered with the symbol. A member of the Gay community joked back, “Well actually I can’t!”
The decision handed down was especially meaningful for San Fernando resident Gilbert Berriozabal, who called it a “defining moment for the LGBAT community and for our country.”
“It was both humbling and empowering to be able to celebrate my 40th birthday along with the Supreme Court’s watershed ruling,” he said.
Berriozabal, a commissioner for the City of San Fernando, was the first openly Gay candidate in this small town to run for local office. While unsuccessful, he remains interested in running again. On the day of the decision, he chose to be in San Francisco with his husband, Santiago, to await the news.
“It prides me to know that whomever wishes to marry the person they love, can now do so at any given time in any state of their choice. This is a historic and bold move for our country. I hope this only furthers the dialogue within our communities to accepting of one another and supporting our LGBT community,” he said.
Georgina Carranza is the proud mother and mother-in-law of her daughter Charlene Palo and her wife Sara Stanton Palo. Carranza, a devout Christian, said she has been witness to the intolerance and cruelty of people who have yelled at them to “repent or Go to Hell.”
“I know the Bible and I know what it says. This is my daughter and her wife and I love and respect them,” Carranza said.
“Who are we to judge them? Only God can judge them, and as my daughter has pointed out, ‘My God is about love and forgiveness.’”
Carranza is pained whenever she meets people who have been ostracized for being Gay.
“I can see the hurt in their eyes,” she said. “They are humans, not animals. They are someone’s daughter or son, and [should] have the same rights as everybody. But when my daughter got married they couldn’t even file their taxes jointly, and they were having trouble with their medical insurance.”
Charlene and Sara have long awaited this decision. In love, they first had a commitment ceremony in the state of Hawaii. Later in 2008, when it was announced that Gay couples could marry in the state of California, they ran to the courthouse in Norwalk for a quick civil marriage.
“As it turned out, there was only a three-month window that we had to get married,” Charlene said. When asked how she felt when the decision was announced, she said she felt “Proud…it was wonderful.”
Although recognized in California, their marriage was not recognized across the country until last week, and it was the simple things and benefits that other married couples take for granted that presented complications for the couple.
While Sara and Charlene could file taxes jointly in the state of California, they couldn’t file their federal taxes as a married couple. It was difficult negotiating with their medical insurance and, although married, they weren’t allowed full coverage as heterosexual couples were provided. There were times when medical costs became insurmountable, especially when they sought reproductive services in hope of becoming parents.
“I knew my daughter was different when she was 4-years-old,” Carranza reflected. “I would put dresses on her and she was always cooperative, but as soon as she could she would put her jeans and tennis shoes back on. She was always more interested in plumbing or electrical work, the things her father was doing.”
Carranza is proud when she speaks of her daughter’s accomplishments in non-traditional roles. Charlene joined the military and was an operator/maintainer for Patriot missiles. It was her job to get them in position for launching.
When she returned from the military, she went to college to study auto and electrical emissions. Charlene now works in the automotive industry while Sara works in computer security as an analyst, auditing for insider threats.
While they may still get public stares, they ignore them. They consider themselves blessed to both have families who love and accept them.
“When you love the person, they make you happy and better, and that’s your soul mate, you want to get married,” Charlene explained. Recuperating from a kidney stone procedure, she said her wife, “hasn’t left her side.” They watched the Supreme Court decision from home and celebrated with their friends through Facebook.
“I feel more equal. I thought it could go either way,” Charlene said, especially following the events of past attempts.
Sara said she didn’t realize so many people supported Gay rights until she saw so many Facebook photos with the rainbow flag.
“We are just really happy about everything,” Sara said. “It will be awesome … especially for all of the other people in other states. Being married helped our relationship and brought us closer together. People say it’s only a piece of paper but the ceremony and everything is important, and means a lot to us.”
“There are still going to be people out there, no matter what, who won’t understand. It takes time to open minds and open hearts,” Charlene said.