Prop 8 Ruling Bittersweet For Couple

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 12:30pm

Lesbian couple among the first wed in California now divorcing.

When gay couples first sought the right to legally wed in California, they argued that they were entitled to all of the benefits of marital bliss.

It was only a matter of time before that benefit extended to the right to split up.

Even as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Tuesday, one of the state's first gay couples to tie the knot was calling it quits.

Robin Tyler filed for divorce from Diane Olson on January 25.

The pair were among 14 same-sex couples who originally challenged the ban in 2008.

"We're human and we went through difficult times," Tyler said. The marriage ran its course, she said.

Tyler and Olson have known each other for 40 years and were together as a couple for 18.

They were the poster couple for gay and lesbian rights.

When they wed, in June of 2008, they had gone to the Beverly Hills Courthouse every year for seven years to apply for -- and be denied- a marriage license.

The ceremony on the steps of the same courthouse was a monumental moment for gay couples everywhere.

"I don't know how to describe it - I wanted this all my life," Olson told the Jewish Journal that day. "Every time I went to a girlfriend's wedding, and when my brother got married, it was something I always wanted for myself. It looks like God must have wanted it for me, too."

In November 2008 voters passed Prop. 8, banning gay marriage.

Tyler and the thousands of other gay and lesbian couples who wed before November 4, were allowed to remain married, but same-sex couples who wanted to get married were forbidden under the new law.

During the prolonged litigation over Prop 8, Olson marveled at the scope of the ban.

"For a bunch of people to tell me who I can love, who I can marry, who I can say this is my person, this is who I choose to spend the rest of my life with, it's mindboggling to me that a few religious people can vote for our equal rights," she said.

Reflecting on their marriage in August of 2010, Tyler said: "Marriage is so important it's the most important relationship that you can have as an adult when you get older."

But even the best of marriages can come to an end.

The right to marry wasn't meant to guarantee that gay couples would live happily ever after, Tyler said, but to provide a basic human civil liberty.

Tyler said her marital problems were no different than if the two parties had been a man and woman.

Gays and lesbians shouldn't be held to a different standard when granted the same civil rights as everyone else, she said.

"What is the standard to expect when you integrate equality," Tyler asked. "We're just like anybody else and that's all they can expect of us."
 

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