BERKELEY -- Kris Perry and Sandy Stier say their three-month marriage is a joy -- but it's also a relief.
Perry and Stier are one of two same-sex couples who were at the center of the fight that led to the Supreme Court striking down California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. The couple was feted at an Oct. 1 reception hosted by the City Council and followed by a proclamation in their honor in the council chambers.
"We're relieved to no longer have to fight the battle and have the uncertainty in our lives," Stier said, as a small crowd gathered for the reception.
During the four-year legal battle, Stier said they carried the hopes of countless same-sex couples looking to the courts for equality. "We wanted so much to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people," she said.
The couple, who raised four boys, have been together since 1997. They were married June 28 by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the first same-sex couple in California married after the court ruling.
Marriage feels different from cohabitation, Perry said. "It feels different to be equal, and accepted -- included," she said.
Perry pointed out that the ultimate battle is yet to be won. Underscoring that the Supreme Court victory left the final decision on same-sex marriage to states, Perry said she and Stier can't travel freely as spouses. "If we go to Virginia, our marriage is not recognized," Perry said,
In fact, the attorneys who took Perry and Stier's case to the Supreme Court are gearing up for a fight in Virginia, where there is neither marriage equality nor domestic partnership legislation. "It leaves so many couples unprotected," Perry said.
Before Stier and Perry cut a celebratory cake, Councilman Kriss Worthington, the first openly gay member of the Berkeley City Council, thanked the couple "for exemplifying the best of Berkeley values."
In addition to honoring Perry and Stier Tuesday evening, the council unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilman Darryl Moore celebrating the 22nd anniversary of Berkeley's Domestic Partner Registry and proclaiming Oct. 11 Marriage Equality Day.
Moore's original resolution was to terminate the city domestic partnership registry in the belief its function had become redundant. Responding to critics, however, Moore rewrote the resolution, deleting termination of the registry.
Ending the city registry would discriminate against heterosexual couples who want their unions officially recognized, Worthington said in a written statement, pointing out that same-sex adult couples of any age can join the state's domestic partner registry, but heterosexual couples can't register with the state until one of the partners is older than 62.
The term "domestic partnership" was coined some 35 years ago by Berkeley city employee Tom Brougham, who thought his same-sex partner, Barry Warren, should receive spousal benefits. The city created the first domestic partner registry in the U.S. in 1991, something Brougham and Warren would not need today because the couple married in July.
Marriage Equality Day will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.