AFP: Campaigingin lesbian couple to tie knot in Los Angeles (June 15)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Campaigning lesbian couple to tie knot in Los Angeles

Jun 15, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Robin Tyler and Diane Olson's four-year battle for the right to marry will end where it began on Monday, when the women exchange vows on the steps of Beverly Hills Courthouse to become the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in Los Angeles County.

Tyler, 66, and Olson, 54, were two of the lead plaintiffs of the lawsuit that led to California's highest court overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage last month, and will wed at 5:01 pm Monday (0001 GMT Tuesday), moments after the court ruling takes effect.

The couple will exchange vows four years after being refused a marriage license at the same courthouse on Valentine's Day 2004, a decision that prompted their ultimately historic legal action.

"We wanted to have the wedding outside the courthouse because it was where we'd been turned down so many times," Tyler told AFP. "It will be nice to be able to stand there and get married and say 'We won.'"

While opponents of same-sex marriage argued that California law already entitled gay and lesbian couples to many of the rights enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, Tyler and Olson were never remotely inclined to settle for the glass ceiling of "domestic partnerships."

"If you deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, it's segregation," says Tyler, a producer, writer and entertainer who has campaigned relentlessly for gay and lesbian rights since the 1970s.

"If you apply the argument used against us to race, it doesn't stand up. If you each have a water fountain -- blacks and whites -- you're drinking the same water, so why do you need a fountain together? Because to do otherwise means that one is considered less than the other.

"And where marriage is concerned, 'domestic partnerships' mean that our love is considered as being worth less than heterosexual love. Equality is not giving us another name for our relationships, equality is giving us the name 'marriage'."

"We held out for the word 'marriage'," Olson added. "Because marriage is a universally understood word."

Despite the legal saga and bitter opposition from conservative groups, Olson and Tyler say they were always confident of victory.

"There was never a doubt in my mind," Olson said.

Tyler added: "If you kick the door long enough, the door is going to come down. So we just kept kicking the door."

Tyler and Olson admit, however, that planning for their wedding has been a steep learning curve. "We're kind of winging it," Tyler said.

"We were asked the other day, 'What's the budget for your wedding?' I said 'I've never had one, how would I know?'" Tyler laughed.

The happy couple, who first met in the 1970s and have been together for 15 years, will wear matching ivory linen suits that were tailor-made in Singapore last year. They have no immediate plans for a honeymoon.

Neither are children on the agenda -- the couple say they are quite happy with their two pugs, Mushu Pork and Wonton.

"They're children with fur as far as we are concerned, and they make our hearts tick," says Tyler.

"And we don't have to pay to send them to college," chimed Olson.