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Gay-rights activists mark Freedom to Marry Week

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Los Angeles County in June, renew their vows at the Beverly Hills Courthouse. Other couples are denied licenses.

February 14, 2009|Joanna Lin

It wasn't the first time Robin Tyler and Diane Olson said "I do," but they hope it will be the last.

Holding hands as they stood under a white chuppah, the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Los Angeles County returned to the Beverly Hills Courthouse on Friday morning and repeated their vows.

"I hope this will be the last Valentine's Day we all have to come back here," said Tyler, 66. "But this is not about us anymore. We do not want to be the only ones on the freedom train."

For eight years, in honor of Valentine's Day, Tyler and Olson applied for a marriage license at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, only to be denied. In 2004, the couple sued the county, and their lawsuit challenging the ban on same-sex marriage landed in the California Supreme Court.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 70 words Type of Material: Correction
Gay marriage: A photo caption accompanying an article about Freedom to Marry Week in Saturday's California section said Jay Darling and Frankie Palacios joined other same-sex couples in protesting court decisions denying their right to marry. The couples were protesting Proposition 8, the California ballot measure passed in November that bans gay marriage. The most recent California Supreme Court decision on the issue has upheld gay couples' right to marry.

Tyler and Olson, 55, married in June, after the court overturned the ban.

But their marriage, along with those of 18,000 other gay and lesbian couples, was thrown into legal limbo when Proposition 8 was passed five months later, barring same-sex couples from marrying.

Administering the couple's vows for the second time, Rabbi Denise Eger said Tyler and Olson's marriage last summer "is real, is legal."

With a California Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 set for March 5, gay-rights advocates rallied across the country during Freedom to Marry Week.

In Beverly Hills on Friday morning, dozens of supporters carried signs reading "Love is undeniable!" and "We (heart) Marriage Rights for ALL."

After the ceremony, several couples filed into the courthouse to apply for marriage licenses.

The clerk, who granted Tyler and Olson their license in June, shook her head "no."

Gloria Allred, an attorney representing Tyler and Olson, said she knew the applications would be denied but that same-sex couples would continue to push for their rights to marry.

Together for 16 years, the couple said they are confident the Supreme Court will uphold their marriage.

"I'm not worried about the Supreme Court breaking us up -- they won't," Tyler said. But, she said, as tears filled her eyes, "we need to ensure others can marry."

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joanna.lin@latimes.com

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