OAKLAND - Oakland Mayor Jean Quan helped raise the rainbow gay pride flag at City Hall today as a symbolic gesture in support of gay marriage as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on two important cases on the matter.
Speaking to about 40 people who gathered on the roof of City Hall, Quan said, "We relish our diversity around gender equality and our role in this fight for civil rights."
Quan said Oakland has been a leader in pushing for gay marriage to become legal and commented that "America is beginning to catch up to us" because polls show increased public support for gay marriage, including a recent poll that said 63 percent of Californians support it.
Although the Supreme Court isn't expected to issue its ruling until this summer, Quan said she believes gay marriage will become legal in California soon "one way or the other," referring to her belief that the state Legislature will legalize it if the Supreme Court rules against it.
Supreme Court justices today heard arguments about the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a proposition approved by the state's voters in 2008 that bans gay marriage. A federal appeals court overturned the measure last year.
On Wednesday, the high court will hear arguments about a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits and tax advantages to couples who were legally married in the states where they live.
Referring to the Supreme Court arguments, Quan said, "We will fly the rainbow flag these two days."
Among the speakers who joined Quan at the flag-raising ceremony was Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington, who noted that the flag will also be raised today in the nearby cities of Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro and Hayward.
Worthington said, "Five East Bay cities are raising the rainbow flag in solidarity for gay marriage."
Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who is the city's first openly lesbian council member, said in a statement read by her aide Jason Overman, "This flag represents our sincere optimism that progress will continue for a future in which all of our community is recognized -- including equal rights in marriage."
Kaplan said, "I am proud of this great city for being a leader in supporting justice and equality -- and I know that the people of Oakland will continue to be part of the progress that we'll make for generations to come."