Married couple completes 450-mile trek for equality
by Seth Hemmelgarn
After marching 450 miles from Los Angeles to urge the state Supreme Court to repeal Proposition 8, married couple Valerie Paget and Tracie Jones – looking tired, but ecstatic – were cheered by about 70 people on the steps of San Francisco City Hall Friday, December 19.
During their arduous outreach effort, Jones said the Pasadena couple was met with warm receptions.
Since Prop 8 passed November 4, amending the state's constitution to eliminate same-sex couples' right to marry, many have stressed the importance of having one-on-one conversations.
Jones said that the signs the couple wore around their necks – "L.A. to S.F." and "Revoke8.com" – were effective.
"When you walk around with a sign around your neck, people ask a lot of questions," she said.
"We were put up by strangers almost every night," said Jones. Plus, there were the people who sent text messages, pulled over to offer food and water, and signed a petition they carried urging the measure's repeal.
Jones said she also learned that even people who voted for Prop 8 are willing to listen. She recalled one woman who came out of her house and said she was influenced by her pastor to vote for Prop 8, but promised to change her vote if she got the chance.
As the couple stood a block away from the state Supreme Court, Paget noted, "We live in a democracy that's governed by a constitution – our constitution." She urged the Supreme Court justices to "go the extra mile," and "do the right thing."
The couple, who began their journey November 18, met in 1998 and were married in Vancouver, Canada 10 years later.
Just after Election Day, when Prop 8 passed, the city of San Francisco, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and others filed lawsuits with the court over the constitutionality of Prop 8, holding that the measure is a revision that requires approval by two-thirds of the state Legislature, rather than just an amendment.
State Attorney General Jerry Brown offered up a different argument in his brief that urged the court to toss out the measure. Brown argued that voters in California do not have the right to take away fundamental rights from their fellow citizens "without a compelling justification," and the court has already ruled there is no reason to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. [See story, page 1.]
Last Friday was the deadline for Prop 8 opponents to file briefs with the court.
Kelly Hart Rivera, a member of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee board and one of about 12 speakers who greeted the couple Friday, compared their walk to the long struggle for equality.
"We're gonna walk on for justice, we're gonna walk on for freedom, because that's what we do," Hart Rivera said.
A few minutes later, everyone marched to the Supreme Court steps, where the couple kissed each other and thanked their supporters.
Jones said the couple was contributing about 450 petition signatures to the Courage Campaign, which has gathered more than 300,000 signatures so far.
The couple's blog is at www.Revoke8.blogspot.com.