Claudia Leisinger - Photography

Stories > Separate Is Not Equal — Description

Description

On May 15th 2008 the California Supreme Court declared that gay and lesbians were a minority group and would therefore be entitled to the same legal rights to marriage as heterosexuals. That made California the second US state after Massachusetts to allow and recognise homosexual marriages.

18 000 same-sex couples married between June and November 4th 2008 when Proposition 8, an initiative outlawing gay marriage and supported by, amongst others, the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches, passed with a small majority (52,3 % vs. 47,7 %). Proposition 8 changed the California legislation to only recognise marriage as a term to be used for heterosexual unions.

The next day, 5th of November, numerous lawsuits were opened by same-sex couples and government entities, questioning Proposition 8's legality and its effects on existing same-sex marriages.

The Supreme Court votes imminently on whether or not to uphold Proposition 8 and the fate of these 18 000 homosexual couples and families who have already been legally married in California. These couples now wonder both whether their
marriages will be annulled or if they will be the few lucky ones legally entitled to stay married while all other prospective same-sex couples are denied that same right.

For this story I have photographed and interviewed at length six married same-sex couples (three gay, three lesbian), old and young, some with children some without, from various parts of California, both rural and urban.

They discussed their thoughts and feelings on their recent legal marriages; how Proposition 8 has affected them, their relationships and their communities; and how they see the future for gay and lesbian rights in California and the US itself.

The Supreme Courts decision will be pronounced on Tuesday 26th of May.

Copyright: Claudia Leisinger

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