Davina Kotulski

A Day In the Life of a Love Warrior

Filed By Davina Kotulski | August 13, 2010 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

I got up at 4:00 AM yesterday, dressed quickly in a black suit, and drove in darkness to San Francisco City Hall with my wife, Molly McKay. No breakfast, no coffee, just the excitement of Judge Walker's impending ruling regarding the Prop 8 stay to chew on.

couples-courthouse.jpgWe were so cold when we got out of the car. It was the San Francisco summer cold that Mark Twain joked about, bone-chilling cold with fog and drizzle. We approached the reporters who had asked to come down for a live 5:00 AM interview. I might have suggested an 8:00 AM on 7:00 AM compromise, but I knew Molly was going with or without me.

When we arrived, fellow Marriage Equality USA advocates, Kristin and Teresa who hoped they'd be able to legally marry if Judge Walker lifted the stay, had risen even earlier and driven even farther, and were already there shivering as they spoke live to an early morning audience about why the wanted to be legally married.

Last May, Kristin was taken to the ER in Fresno after suffering repeated grand mal seizures in the sweltering heat at the Meet in the Middle Event. Hospital staff denied Teresa the right to be with Kristin, (even though she had medical power of attorney), and they refused to listen to her when she told them what meds not to give Kristin. And as you might expect they gave Kristin meds she was not supposed to have and her condition worsened. Kristin and Teresa never want to go through that again, so they were going to be the first in line to get their marriage license.

Did I mention it was cold? We shivered and waited for the sun to rise, then moved from the Civic Center Plaza to the steps of San Francisco City Hall. Same-sex couples began lining up to get their marriage licenses.

Then the opposition, all 5 of them, began showing up. At first Molly thought two of them were a same-sex couple who were there to get married. Is it surprising that two of the guys Luke and Victor are handsome, kinda beefy, and well-dressed? Hmm. Anyway, they brought their gigantic anti-gay billboard signs "Pervert Judge, Pervert Ruling." "A moral wrong is not a civil right." "Judge Mocks God." The usual. And they took their places in front of SF City Hall steps.

9:00 AM came quickly and we waited for Judge Walker's decision. More cameras, more photographers, more interviews, more same-sex couples showing up, more people gathering.

10:00 AM crowd grows.

11:00 AM crowd grows impatient. What the heck? Where is this decision? Why is he torturing us and waiting until the last minute? The fog suddenly lifts and now we are way too hot in our extra layers of clothes. My face begins to burn almost instantly, the reporters press in closer and there is so much body heat. Molly jokes about taking bets of what time the judge might make his decision. 11:01, 11:08, 11:31, 11:55.

As the minutes tick by, the media presses even closer, surrounding Molly and I and the two same-sex couples, Teresa and Kristin, and Vanessa and Maria. We are pushed up against the City Hall wall, unable to turn without bumping someone's camera lens.

No one is winning this poll. It's now 12:00 PM. Where is this decision? Some people in the crowd, who we can't see over the video equipment and cameras, are cheering. Turns out it's just a tourist bus going by. People focus!

Then someone gets a Facebook message and another a Tweet. The Judge has lifted the stay, they say. "Source, source, source?" we yell. But no one has a reliable source. We call our sources. They've heard nothing.

The media are hungry. We are like cornered animals again the wall and the media are hungry predators seeking morsels of news, their lips smacking for word. A cheer goes out to my left. It's not the tourist bus this time.

"Source, source, source?" we ask again. "Lambda Legal," someone yells out.

We cheer. We applaud, but something doesn't feel right. We give the reporters the happy faces they came for. Then we rush into City Hall with our friends who want marriage licenses.

There are 40 couples ready for this day, beaming and shaking in anticipation of making it legal. I race up and down the line snapping photos and congratulating them.

And that nagging feeling returns. I call Pamela Brown, Marriage Equality USA's policy director. She still does not have a source. I look for someone from City Hall. They have a concerned look on their face. He did say to lift the stay, but something isn't plain.

Then Pamela tells me. "The stay will be kept in place until August 18th." She tells me to "Shut up and listen."

I do. It's true. There will be no weddings today.

The hallway is jam-packed with happy couples along the right side of the wall and throngs of reporters on the left, there is barely an aisle for people to walk down.

Word is starting to be blurted out. It's going to get really chaotic. It needs to be a clean delivery, not a drawn out wave of pain.

"Can I have your attention? Everyone, please can I have your attention." Molly and I share the news. "Don't give up home. We will have full equality. Don't give up hope."

Easier said than done. The tears come quickly to everyone. I remember what it was like when the California State Supreme Court invalidated our marriage license in 2004, like getting the wind kicked out of you.

But it's not time for me to cry or show weakness. I have to be strong. I have to comfort my friends whose hopes have been dashed on the rocks.

Progressive clergy are among us and they offer to do blessings near the Harvey Milk bust in the rotunda for all couples who want their relationships blessed.

And then it's time to leave, empty handed couples without the marriage licenses they came for.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and County Assessor Recorder Phil Ting promising that they will be ready and waiting to marry people the second it's legal.

But will these couples get a chance next week? Or, are nuptials for same-sex couples in California still many months or even years away?

We will never give up hope! You can take our fearless leader Harvey Milk, you can take away our marriage licenses, you can take away our constitutional right to marry, and you can delay justice and our wedding days, but we are love warriors, and we will continue to love and fight for equality and justice for all!

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You had me at "I got up at 4AM with no coffee for an interview" Tell me you at least got a cup of Joe before having to go on air.

Thank you for sharing your blow by blow account. I feel like I was there with you.

Thank God for two other Love Warriors Billy Bradford and Eric Ross who made Starbucks runs!!! Yeah coffee!! Yeah Billy and Eric!!

Billy was the guy holding the Rainbow Flag and the American flag captured on yahoo.com. Eric was the one who held his Blackberry and refreshed every 2 mins to see if the ruling had come through, which was so late it almost killed his battery.

Pins and needles until next Thursday!