On the front steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, Robin Tyler and Diane Olson became the first gay couple to marry in Los Angeles County, and possibly all of California. Tyler and Olson were the leading plaintiffs in the 2004 same sex marriage lawsuit that went before the California Supreme Court, with the majority of justices ruling in their favor on May 15. On late Monday afternoon, it was time to make everything official.
(Robin Tyler (left), Diane Olson, and lawyer Gloria Allred)
With a crowd that included LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad, actress and producer Honey Labrador and her girlfriend, and many friends and family, the courthouse steps were jammed.
A little after five o'clock, Tyler walked out of the courthouse with Olson and their lawyer, Gloria Allred, waving the official marriage license. Tyler said the couple had ordered their white wedding suits a year ago, expecting this day to come.
"It's a great day for tolerance in America," said Michael Libow, a Beverly Hills real estate agent and master of ceremonies, as more friends and family looked on.
During the Jewish wedding, Tyler and Olson were surrounded by every major TV and radio news outlet in Los Angeles, with most of them broadcasting the nuptials live. "This is a time for celebration and rejoicing," said Rabbi Denise Eger, who married the couple.
Anti-gay protesters also attended the event, but they were silent during the ceremony after Beverly Hills police reportedly warned them to be respectful. Volunteers from the gay community stood next to the wedding crashers with rainbow flags.
For many people, it was hard to hold back the tears, and, to be honest, I was one of them. This hasn't happened often. The only other time emotions blind-sided me on the job was when I covered the 2005 civil disobedience arrest of gay rights activist Jake Reitan and his parents, Philip and Randi, at Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado. I'm still not sure why the eyes teared up in Beverly Hills, but watching Tyler and Olson successfully overcome their long struggle, which is the long struggle of every gay man and woman, stirred something in me.
After the ceremony, Janet Singleton, a friend of the married couple, served slices of a four-layered cake--donated by Cake and Art in West Hollywood and named "Eden"--to anyone who wanted it...even, she suggested, the protesters.
Just before Robin Tyler ate her cake, she told the crowd, "We stand on the shoulders of thousands of activists who came before us...it's not about us." Tyler added, "We wanted marriage because it's the most special word in the world for someone."
At one point, anti-gay protesters started yelling at Tyler and Olson, calling them an "abomination." Gloria Allred briefly confronted them, waving the supreme court ruling in their faces. More protesters are expected to show up at ceremonies in West Hollywood and Norwalk on Tuesday.
By six o'clock, everything was over, and Tyler no longer introduced Olson to people as her "partner." Whenever she got the chance, she smiled, looked at her longtime companion, and said, "This is my wife." The day, Tyler said, made her feel like Alice in Wonderland.
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Outtro: A lot of music has been running through the head the past couple of days, and after I was driving home from Beverly Hills along Doheny Drive, David Bowie's "Heroes" popped up on the car stereo, with these lyrics adding to a weird buzz fueled by two slices of wedding cake and too much adrenaline:
"I can remember/ Standing/ By the wall/ And the guns/ Shot above our heads/ And we kissed/ As though nothing could fall/ And the shame/ Was on the other side/ Oh we can beat them/ For ever and ever/ Then we can be heroes/ Just for one day..."
On a warm Monday evening in West Hollywood, and a half hour after one of the first same sex weddings in California, it was the perfect gay anthem.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.