By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Mar. 26, 2013

The plaintiffs in Tuesday morning’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court hearings challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage shared their stories and frustrations over inequalities in America.

“If there are 36,000 gays and lesbians married in California, 18,0000 couples, what will it harm if more couples get married? They call it an experiment in the Supreme Court. We’re not an experiment, we’re a civil rights movement, and we deserve civil rights!” Robin Tyler, one of the plaintiff said.

But whatever the high court decides, there seems to be a growing support for same sex marriage in the court of public opinion.

In San Francisco, over a thousand supporters marched from the Castro district, the birthplace of gay rights movement in the US to the San Francisco City Hall on Monday night.

Jeff Tabaco and his partner of close to ten years, Thom Watson, have long wanted to legalize their union but chose not to marry elsewhere but in their home state.

“We just want the rights that all other couples have,” Tabaco said.

“It’s really in the abstract to say that someone should not have equality. But when you know that that person is your child, your sister or your brother, it’s much harder to deny them equality,” Watson added.

Proposition 8 is a voter supported proposition that rules that only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized in California. It ended same-sex marriages in California. But marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples issued before the ban were still valid.

Joel Fallago and his partner Blue Young have been together for 12 years. They were not among the 18,000 same-sex couples whose marriage was considered in legal in California before the ban was approved in 2008.

Fallago said they were not ready then, but are considering getting married now, if Prop 8 is struck down.

“It’s quite unusual to have to travel quite a distance, away from your home, to seek equal rights,” he said.

Meantime, John Duran, council member of the City of West Hollywood, said that legalizing same-sex marriage will be good for California’s troubled economy.

“In West Hollywood particularly, 40% of our population identify as LGBT. When same-sex marriage is approved, couples will need services from caterers, hotels, retail businesses and these will help the economy,” he said.

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