The high court ruled Thursday that gay couples in California can get married. It is a monumental, but potentially short-lived victory if a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is put on the ballot in November.
A jubilant Mayor Gavin Newsom was cheered by same-sex marriage supporters inside City Hall.
"It's about human dignity, it's about civil rights, it's about time in California," said Mayor Newsom. (Watch unedited video of Newsom's speech)
Thursday, the State Supreme Court ruled four to three that marriage rights for gays and lesbians saying, "current California statutes nonetheless must be viewed as potentially impinging upon a same-sex couple's constitutional right to marry under the California Constitution."
The court's 121-page decision said domestic partnership rights were not the same as marriage and that the state's current policy essentially created two classes of unions -- one for gays and one for straight couples.
The court said, "assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same-sex couples while reserving the historic designation of "marriage" exclusively for opposite-sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same-sex couples such equal dignity and respect."
Not all the justices agreed. Justice Marvin Baxter, writing on behalf of himself and Justice Ming Chin, said the court "does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice."
Thursday's decision was obviously not what same-sex marriage opponents had hoped for.
"Most Californians are not clapping for this gay marriage ruling. They're sad, they're mad about it," said Randy Thomasson with Campaign for Children & Families. (Watch unedited video of press conference)
As it stands now, same-sex couples will be able to marry when this ruling becomes final in 30 days.
Those couples who married back in 2004 or had their marriages previously annulled by the court, will have to remarry once the state figures out just how the transition will be handled.
Watch unedited reaction to the ruling from various parties involved.
- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
- City Attorney Dennis Herrera
- Randy Thomasson, Founder & President of Campaign for Children & Families (Part 1)
- Randy Thomasson, Founder & President of Campaign for Children & Families (Part 2)
- Executive Director Kate Kendall and Legal Director Shannon Mintner with the National Center for Lesbian Rights
- San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Terri Stewart
- Dan Bernal, Spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
- Senior Counsel Jenny Pfizer with Lambda Legal
- Executive Director Maya Harris of ACLU Northern California
- Download: Read a summary of the California Supreme Court's ruling
- Court documents filed in the California marriage case
- Massachusetts' gay marriage decision (Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health -- Nov. 18, 2003).
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States by state (map)
- Same-Sex Marriage: Developments in the Law
- Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders: Marriage Equality
Ken Miguel contributed to this report.