It was a scene that was much different from that of a year ago when Yolo County Clerk Freddie Oakley made national headlines with her protest of California's Marriage Laws that prevent her from issuing Marriage Certificates to same sex partners. There were no protests outside. No angry demonstrators. No counter-demonstrators. It was just the County Clerk, two candidates for the Assembly, and a small number of same sex couples who came.
At noon, Freddie Oakley turned down a small number of couples and gave them a card that read:
"Thanking you for visiting the Yolo County Clerk today, February 14, 2008. I am so sorry that I am not legally authorized to issue a marriage license to you. Instead, with your permission, I will make a donation in your name to Marriage Equality USA. Please don't give up."
Both County Supervisor Mariko Yamada, a longtime support of marriage equity and her opponent for the 8th Assembly District Christopher Cabaldon, himself an openly gay male, were at the small ceremony.
Speaking to the Democratic event later in the evening, the West Sacramento Mayor made a few remarks on the subject.
"Just one personal note. This is the worst day of the year for me. It's Valentine's Day and I typically don't like to go out on Valentine's Day. Mariko and several of us today have gone around the region because later in the year there is a very good chance that there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot to permanently ban same sex marriage. To permanently ensconce discrimination into the California Constitution because some people think that the Supreme Court might actually see the light in March and rule that marriage equality is something in California that's enshrined in our constitution. I hope you'll take the chance in the next couple of month if you believe that it should be okay, that as the Mayor I should be able to marry just like a convicted felon can. To take the chance and talk to your [family] and just have a quick conversation about the role of government in deciding who can love who. And what that means and whether we really want government to say you can't marry because you have three parking tickets. That's not the kind of society that we want. But that change will only happen if more of us have this personal heart-to-heart conversation..."In March, the California Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the ban on same sex marriage. And it seems that many think there will be a good chance that that ban will be overturned. If that happens, opponents of same-sex marriage will likely try to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Once again, just ahead of a Presidential Election.
It is probably something that most people do not think about on Valentine's Day, when they go to bed at night with their spouse and realize how lucky they are to be able to be married to the person they love, to the person of their dreams. It is also probably not something we think about often enough how difficult it must be to not be able to marry the person that they wish.
For me, I respected the courageous stand that Freddie Oakley took last year in a very public way. But I also respect the stance she took yesterday in a much more low-key manner that was just as heartfelt and just as loving. Yolo County is lucky to have such a compassionate person serving the public as our Clerk Recorder.
---Doug Paul Davis reporting