Beach's gay population say is a step in the right human-rights
"It's monumental," resident Skip Jennings said of the June 26
decision. "It's like we're fighting for equality of partners -- the
same as straight couples. This is one step taking away, chipping away
from the wall separating us from equality. Next we have to attack the
"I bet the guys in Texas [John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner]
didn't know it would lead to this. Out of adversity comes victory."
Lawrence and Garner were arrested in Lawrence's Houston home in
1998 for violating a Texas law prohibiting sodomy. They fought the
statute all the way to the Supreme Court.
The judges also overturned a 1986 decision by the Supreme Court
that upheld a Georgia law banning sodomy. That ruling was considered
a setback for gay rights partly because it was used to justify
employment discrimination and custody rulings against lesbian and gay
In his dissent from the decision, Justice Antonin Scalia argued
that the ruling might set a precedent for the loosening of other
strictures against gays, in particular on the issue of same-sex
"Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law
that has permitted distinction to be made between heterosexual and
homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is
concerned," Scalia said.
Those in support of the decision suggested that Scalia might be
"A major weapon of the other side -- labeling gay Americans as
criminals just because of who we love -- has now been eliminated,"
said William M. Hohengarten one of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund's
cooperating attorneys on the Texas case. "Abolition of all
discrimination in areas like marriage and the military will not come
immediately, but this decision introduces a whole new, better era for
Lambda Legal's attorneys focus on cases regarding the civil rights
of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, the trans-gendered and those with
HIV or AIDS.
Some Laguna Beach residents backing the decision suggested that
the ruling goes beyond even the issue of marriage.
"This is one of the greatest shots in our arms for our community,"