Discrimination Towards Same Sex Couples


LOS ANGELES – This morning, the ACLU of Southern California, together with the ACLU of Northern California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit arguing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the California Constitution’s guarantees of equality, liberty, and privacy. The suit was filed on behalf of six same-sex couples, five of whom had upcoming appointments to obtain marriage licenses at San Francisco’s City Hall. The couples had their appointments cancelled as a result of the California Supreme Court’s order yesterday directing San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Two organizations, Our Family Coalition and Equality California, are also parties in the case. “We have an opportunity here to end marriage discrimination in California,” said Martha Matthews, Bohnett Attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “Loving, committed same-sex couples should not be denied the rights extended to all other Californians under the state’s Constitution.”

The couples in the suit:

  • ‘ Lancy Woo and Cristy Chung have been in a committed relationship for 16 years. They have a five-year old daughter, Olivia. Lancy and Cristy had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on March 30th.
  • ‘ Joshua Rymer and Timothy Frazer have been in a committed relationship for more than 10 years. Joshua and Tim met in 1994 and exchanged wedding rings in a private ceremony in 1995. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 2:00 P.M. on March 17th and were planning to have a small ceremony at City Hall, to be followed by a reception and renewal of vows at their home in Sonoma.
  • ‘ Jewell Gomez and Diane Sabin have been together for 11 years. Jewell is a writer and the Program Director at the San Francisco Arts Commission. Diane is a chiropractor. Diane and Jewell had obtained an application for a marriage license and intended to marry.
  • ‘ Myra Beals and Ida Matson are 61 and 68 years old, respectively, and have been in a committed relationship for 27 years. They had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall on Friday, March 12, 2004 – one day after the California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Friends and family had made plans to join them in San Francisco on March 12 to celebrate their marriage with them.
  • ‘ Arthur Frederick Adams and Devin Wayne Baker have been together in a committed relationship for three and a half years. Arthur and Devin had an appointment to get married at San Francisco Hall at 3:00 P.M. on March 11th. They bought wedding rings and arrived at San Francisco City Hall about 2:45 P.M. on March 11, along with several family members and friends who were there to witness and celebrate their wedding. Arthur and Devin were in the process of completing an application for a marriage license when they were informed that no further marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples.
  • ‘ Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper have been together in a committed relationship for 15 years. Jeanne and Pali had an appointment to get married at San Francisco City Hall at 3:00 P.M. on March 11th. They arrived at San Francisco City Hall on that date, accompanied by about fifty family members and friends, including many who had traveled from out of state to attend their wedding celebration. Jeanne and Pali were on the steps of City Hall with their family members when they were told that no more marriage licenses would be granted.

The two organizational plaintiffs in the suit:

  • ‘ Our Family Coalition is a San Francisco Bay Area organization dedicated to promoting the civil rights and well being of families of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members.
  • ‘ Equality California is the leading state-wide advocacy group protecting the needs and interests of same-sex couples and their children in California.

Same-Sex Couple Say Uber Driver Used Gay Slur, Discriminated

A same-sex couple say they were victims of discrimination by an Uber driver during SF Pride weekend. Matt Tongi and Sumeet Chadha said they called Uber on Saturday night to go the Castro district in San Francisco for a Pride event. Tongi said after they got into the car, he kissed his boyfriend on the cheek. The Uber driver then told them he couldn’t drive them anymore because he was out of gas.

But Tongi said he could see the fuel gauge on the dash, and it indicated the vehicle had plenty of gas. The conversation then got heated, and the driver used a gay slur and told them to get out, Tongi said. Chadha said he was surprised by the driver’s action, knowing how Uber heavily promoted Pride this year. “I’m really appalled,” he said. “Honestly, I felt really sad for the whole situation in general. I think the whole thing is the idea of this marketing strategy – if you’re going to sell to a certain image or a certain person, you have to be sure that you’re vetting your drivers, that they’re OK with the same strategy you are using.” Uber responded with a statement, saying it is investigating. “Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we are looking into this incident,” a company spokesperson said.

Judge: California baker can refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) – A California bakery owner can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it violates her Christian beliefs, a judge ruled. The decision came after a lawyer for Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield argued that owner Cathy Miller’s right to free speech and free expression of religion trumps the argument that she violated a state anti-discrimination law.

Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe agreed but said Monday his ruling was tied closely to the fact that Miller was being asked to make a cake for an event and that the act of creating it was protected artistic expression. Lampe cautioned that freedom of religion does not give businesses a right to refuse service to groups protected by the Unruh Civil Rights Act in other circumstances, the Bakersfield Californian reported. “A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same-sex couples,:” Lampe wrote. “No baker may place their wares in a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification.” Miller said it went against her Christian beliefs to make a cake for a same-sex couple. She told the newspaper she was overjoyed by the ruling and respected the distinction Lampe made between the sales of a cake and the creation of one. “I am very happy to serve everything from my cases to anybody,” she said. “But I cannot be a part of a celebration that goes against my lord and savior.”

An attorney for Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio, who brought the case, was not available for comment. The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule in the high-profile case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. That baker, Jack Phillips, claims his First Amendment claims of artistic freedom were being violated.