Supporters of same-sex marriage raise an LGBT pride flag over the Long Beach… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
The crowd cheered and clapped Tuesday morning as the LGBT pride flag was raised and flapped for the first time over City Hall Plaza in Long Beach.
The ceremony -- which marked the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on California's Proposition 8 -- was part of the Courage Campaign's California Mayors United Against Proposition 8 movement.
Mayors from at least 25 cities are participating in the movement, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
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A letter signed by the mayors was sent to the Supreme Court before it heard the two gay rights-related cases it is considering this week. On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments about the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
A portion of the letter read:
"As Mayors, we have a responsibility to unite our cities, not divide them. Key to that is building family integrity, including ensuring all loving, committed couples in our cities have the same freedoms and rights. Proposition 8 created separate and unequal status for same-sex couples throughout California, and denies equality to same-sex couples, violating the Constitutional guarantee of due process and equal protection."
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At Tuesday's ceremony, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said the Supreme Court cases were critical. He thanked members of the LGBT community for speaking openly about their struggles, saying what they've been seeking are the "same rights and same benefits" as everyone else.
"In Long Beach, we hang together," Foster said. "This community cares about human rights."
Standing nearby, Vice Mayor Robert Garcia nodded as he listened. He is one of two openly gay members of the Long Beach City Council. He also helped raised the flag with the mayor.
"It's significant and it's very personal to me," Garcia said of the ceremony. "To see my community support my neighbors, the LGBT community and myself is very important."
Showing a photo album to reporters after the ceremony, Angel Macias kissed her wife, Kimberly Maddox, a police officer with the city, goodbye.
Maddox, co-president of Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Inc., and Macias, the chief executive of a nonprofit organization, were married in 2008, the same year voters approved Prop. 8 and halted same-sex marriages.
"This fight is not only about gay rights, it's about human rights," Macias said.
"We have come a long way and to have the flag raised in City Hall and all around the United States ... is great," Maddox said. "We hope everybody gets the opportunity to marry and be happy like we are."
"You are happy?" Maddox asked Macias.
"I'm very happy," she responded, smiling.
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