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First for gay marriage

July 23, 2008 | 12:50 pm

No doubt the souvenir shops in Laguna Beach will be selling T-shirts with that very slogan — First for Gay Marriage — after the City Council voted last night to become the first city in the state to oppose Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage illegal. It was perhaps a little daring for a council that typically worries more about what piece of, um, interesting public art to install next, but an important acknowledgement of the gay community that has long been an inherent and accepted part of the city's identity.

Hard to know if anyone remembers further back in the city's history than the teen glitz of "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," but for a period of time, Laguna had the highest AIDS rate in the nation because of its large gay community. That population seems to have dwindled in recent years, or maybe it's only grown less visible, less a part of the city's identity. There were a couple of years when the city honored those who had died of AIDS by decorating parking meters on the main shopping drag with red ribbons, each with the name of am AIDS victim. It was a dubious concept, the idea of being memorialized by a parking meter, and yet, as flowers and notes of grief piled up around each one, the full force of the loss hit home. But the annual day of red ribbons faded away, too.

With its unanimous vote, and the support of speakers at the meeting, the council acknowledged a group that sometimes gets forgotten among the new Laguna of mansionization and endless tourism. Now that one city took a stand, who's next?

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