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West Hollywood to install plaque honoring gay marriages

The City Council plans to unveil the bronze marker, inscribed with a quote from Nelson Mandela, at its meeting on Sept. 8. It will be placed in a park where many weddings took place.

August 21, 2009|Nicole Santa Cruz

A bronze marker engraved with a quote from Nelson Mandela will be placed at a park in West Hollywood where some of the first same-sex marriages in California were performed.

The City Council plans to unveil the rectangular plaque at its Sept. 8 meeting before permanently installing it at West Hollywood Park off North San Vicente Boulevard, a site which was full of pride June 17, 2008, when same-sex couples could legally marry for the first time in California.

"It happened on a single day but it went on for months," said Jeffrey Prang, the West Hollywood councilman who thought of the plaque. "And it meant something much bigger than that."

The plaque will bear one of the former South African president's noteworthy remarks: "I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else's freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity."

It's no surprise West Hollywood, a well-known center of gay activism and culture, would commemorate the day and the wedding spot, Prang said.

"When same-sex marriage was declared legal by the court, all eyes gravitated toward West Hollywood and San Francisco," he said.

The city issued more than 1,000 marriage licenses and performed more than 600 civil ceremonies between June and November 2008, when California voters approved Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

The California Supreme Court upheld the proposition in May.

Corri Planck was one of those who was married that summer.

"You have never seen so many people so happy to go through a government process," she said.

Randy Thomasson, founder and president of SaveCalifornia.com, a conservative pro-child and pro-family activist group, said the city of West Hollywood is good at supporting bad ideas, including the marker.

"If you support what is healthy and natural, you can't support this marker," he said.

Regardless of opposition, West Hollywood will continue to fight for the rights of same-sex couples, said Abbe Land, the city's mayor.

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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