Gay Marriage on Trial: 'Today Could Be the Start of Something Historic'

Perry v. Schwarzenegger kicked off today, with early-morning candlelight vigils outside the courtroom and, inside, a line of civilians hoping to view history in the making. With broadcast footage of the trial currently blocked by the Supreme Court, the four young lawyers who were first in line at 6:30 in the morning were lucky to make it in. All four just passed the bar. “I’m here also for personal reasons,” said Eric Lunsford. “I’m gay, and this is a big deal—I want to get married someday. I’m worried but excited.” With him was Jessica Ourk, who came because “this could be our generation’s Brown v. Board of Education.

Ourk’s friend Grace So, 26, had a huge engagement ring on her finger. She was No. 3 in line. “I just got engaged last night, to a man. But I feel strongly that everyone should have this opportunity.” She, like Lunsford, said she is a practicing Christian and is “appalled” that Christians are against gay marriage.

Just behind them were David Bowers, 63, and Bruce Ivie, 53, who have been together almost 30 years and are among the lucky few who are legally married in California. “But I don’t like being in a subgroup of our clan,” said Ivie. “I want what we have for my lesbian sisters and gay brothers.” He and Bowers said they still fill out a patchwork of documents each year, including filing state tax returns as married and federal ones as single. “Today could be the start of something historic,” said Ivie. “A change.”

During the plaintiff’s testimony about the process of coming out, homophobia, and the desire to be married, Bowers lowered his head with emotion. “You could feel everything in the room slow down,” he said later by the elevators during a break. “No one couldn’t be moved by that.”