The phone started ringing at Timothy Jay Candles a little bit after 10 a.m. Thursday and didn’t stop. At 1 p.m., the red portable phone rang yet again. Tim Sullivan, a bright-eyed man in his 60s and owner of the candle shop, answered it.
Someone said something on the other end of the line, and Sullivan smiled wide.
“Oh, Jesus! Yes! It’s a wonderful, wonderful day! I took out my big old rainbow flag and hung that fucking thing! It’s waving in front of my place right now!”
Sullivan, dressed in blue jeans and a blue T-shirt, listened to the caller and paced around his little store while several workers packaged scented candles for clients. Located on Harper Avenue, a few yards from Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, Timothy Jay is where Sullivan’s friends and people from the neighborhood regularly stop by to chat about politics, movies, men and anything else that comes to mind.
“All I can say is,” Sullivan said into the phone, “God bless Gavin Newsom.”
Newsom, of course, being the mayor of San Francisco, a straight man who pressed the legal battle over same-sex unions in 2004 by allowing gay and lesbian couples in his city to marry. The marriages were later nullified by the California Supreme Court, but now, three years later, after separate lawsuits were filed, the same Supreme Court ruled on this Thursday morning that marriage between two men or two women is legal.
Sullivan, still on the phone, sat down in front of his computer and read a news-wire report to his friend. The old rainbow flag fluttered in a light breeze outside his window.
“It couldn’t be more clear!” Sullivan said, summing up the article. “It’s done. We’re legal.”
Sullivan hung up a few moments later but not before telling the caller to head over to Santa Monica and San Vicente for a 7 p.m. rally. “I hope we disrupt a little traffic,” he said. “Actually, I hope we disrupt a lot of traffic. Okay, my love. Take care.”
Sullivan looked around the store, still smiling wide. Christopher Young, a part-time Web designer, sat across from him and started talking about more legal fights. Someone else mentioned the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Bill Clinton, which trumps state law and defines a “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex, among other things. Someone also mentioned that Senator Hillary Clinton spoke of repealing only part of DOMA. Senator. Barack Obama wanted to do away with all of it.
“So why are all the queens in this town jumping around for Hillary?” asked Sullivan, who’s an Obama man.
No one in the store had an answer, and Young started talking about what the U.S. Supreme Court might do.
“I just don’t want to hear about it,” Sullivan finally said, throwing his hands down. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. I want to enjoy it.”
The legal talk was dropped for another day. There was celebrating to be done in the heart of Boys Town.