Freedom to Marry

Culver City Council Votes to Approve


By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

In an action that proves the times are indeed changing, the Culver City Council approved support of an amicus (friend of the court) brief from Mayors for the Freedom to Marry that would lend support to several marriage cases currently before the United States Supreme Court for review.

The support was approved by four of the five council members with Mehaul O' Leary abstaining.

The amicus brief has been circulating around the United States and has gained support from the mayors of cities including San Diego, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix, as well as Los Angeles.

The action was taken up by Culver City after Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells received an email in February of this year from Kristin Lance, Federal Program Associate of Freedom to Marry (a member of the Respect for Marriage Coalition), which requested that the City of Culver City support an amicus (friend of the court) brief regarding several marriage cases from four different states (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) which were granted review by the United States Supreme Court and will consider the issue of the freedom to marry.

The brief is being drafted by the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and will explain to the Court "the harm to families and communities resulting from marriage discrimination." The U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the marriage cases on January 16, 2015. The deadline for mayors and/or cities to sign onto this amicus brief is Monday, March 2, 2015.

Prior to the vote, council member Jim Clarke asked city attorney Carol Schwab how much time the council would have to learn about the brief.

Schwab explained that the brief is for the mayor to sign but that the council must approve the mayor's action. She noted that with Los Angeles having signed on, the organizers are "scrambling for us to get it out there."

"Do we have a chance to review it or are we to sign it without looking at it?" said Clarke.

Schwab said she was uncertain as to whether the brief had been presented to the mayor of Los Angeles alone or to the entire city council of Los Angeles. "All the mayors are signing on-I'm not sure how [the information was derived]. Numerous mayors all over the country are supporting the amicus." However, the policy in Culver City is that the mayor cannot sign on without the consent of the council.

Speakers in public comment were eloquent in urging the council to support the brief.

Carlene Brown reminded the council of the words of Dr, Martin Luther King, that "all are created equal."

"Our mayor is rising above to look at the meaning of that creed-to send a message loud and clear that Culver City supports marriage equality. Conservatives are fighting a losing battle-the younger generation is overwhelmingly accepting of marriage equality."

"The more mayors support this, the stronger the message to the Supreme Court," said Rebecca Ronin-Tuttle. You will be making a statement that you care about the gays in our midst."

Karlo Silbiger noted that the council has in the past been silent in the face of similar directives. He hoped that they would end their silence this time and remarked on the history of harassment of the LGBT community, which he himself had had to face.

Karlo's father Gary Silbiger asked: "How would you feel if you could not get married because you were Jewish or Catholic?"

The council indeed, was not silent this time. Andrew Weissman said he had "spent time wrestling with this issue" because it had been suggested that this was not a local issue and that the council was being "distracted" by national issues.

"We are a small city with limited resources," said Weissman. "But that doesn't mean we refuse to advocate on behalf of the community."

Jim Clarke talked of how he is a Catholic and yet he goes against his religion's official stance on moral issues such as a woman's right to choose and divorce, as well as marriage equality.

Realizing that the brief had the support of the other four council members, O'Leary nevertheless pleaded his abstention view. Saying that it was his policy to "never weigh in on national issues," he explained that he thought certain issues were "divisive" and that the "political arena" wants to divide America via these issues.

"To state that we are making a statement for the gay community is preposterous."

Sahli-Wells delivered a final comment: "My goal is not to antagonize but to see that no one's religious beliefs impinge on others."

In other City Council actions, the Council passed an M.O. U. (Memorandum of Understanding) between the City of Culver City and the Culver City Unified School District to install and maintain a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Elenda Street and Garfield Avenue. The M.O.U. passed unanimously.

The Council also passed a resolution (1) finding that the public health, safety, or welfare requires the formation of Underground Utility District No. 11 located along Culver Boulevard between Sepulveda Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue; (2) declaring such designated area Underground Utility District No. 11; and (3) ordering the removal and underground installation of wires and facilities within such district.


Reader Comments(2)

psiphiorg writes:

Fortunately, for those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman, that option isn't going away. But some people are currently denied the freedom that you currently enjoy, and I think it's great that the city government is supporting all its citizens, not just those with one opinion.

CCCitizen writes:

What a sad day for Culver City to have its officials acting on behalf of us without our consent, thus discriminating its citizens' belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman whose body parts are made to fit perfectly and naturally not only for pleasure, but also for the purpose of human procreation. This city is going down the rabbit hole.


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