The following is reposted from The Sun.
Pair of Gay San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies Speak Openly About Their Relationships
By: Beatriz E. Valenzuela (@IEBeatriz on Twitter)
Ken Lutz and his partner have been in love for nearly two decades. And like many gay people in California, they were ecstatic after learning about the Supreme Court's rulings last week that allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California and gave married gay couples the right to receive federal benefits.
"My relationship will never again be considered second-class," Lutz wrote on his Facebook page after the rulings were announced. "Thank you for equality."
Dozens of friends, family members and co-workers showed their solidarity with his words.
"This tells me we have a lot of support," said the High Desert man, saying the positive notes left by co-workers were especially touching as he works in a field not many consider friendly to gays.
Lutz is a 22-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and is one of two openly gay deputies in the department.
"The department has become more supportive," said Lutz, a sergeant at the Victorville station. "They don't look at my relationship any differently now than any other marriage."
The couple did not marry when the option was available to them in 2008, but they have been in a legal domestic partnership for more than a decade.
Lutz and another sheriff's deputy, Sgt. Marie Spain, who works out of the Apple Valley station, were the first openly gay deputies to receive benefits for their partners through a domestic partnership.
But it was a hard-won victory.
When they first applied, they were denied, but the 1999 passage of California's Domestic Partnership Act guaranteed benefits to anyone who legally filed as domestic partners.
Both Lutz and Spain have been guest speakers for a course at Victor Valley College in Victorville, Multicultural Law Enforcement, where they speak about tolerance and diversity issues.
Lutz has also been asked to speak about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues to other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Despite being an advocate of gay rights, he was still taken aback by the Supreme Court's decisions last week.
"I wasn't sure I would see this day," Lutz said.
Others across the Inland Empire understood Lutz's feelings.
"This is something we have been fighting for for so long that it almost feels like it wasn't going to happen," said Cas Mata of Riverside at a recent rally in Rancho Cucamonga celebrating the rulings. "For some of the younger people, they won't have to know the struggles we've gone through to see this day, and that's great."
But others affected by the ruling said they remained optimistic throughout the legal roller coaster of the last five years."You have to keep believing it would happen," said Greg Sosa of Riverside. "You have to believe that we have been making positive steps toward this goal."
Now with the option to legally marry in California on the table, Lutz said he and his partner, John, will most likely take that walk down the aisle, but they are in no rush.
"Just like any other couple, there are a lot of things to plan and think about," he said, "but I think it's something that we will do."