Saturday morning's rally took place as part of a national day of protest against Proposition 8, the voter initiative passed on Nov. 4 that overturned a ruling in which the California Supreme Court said by a 4-3 vote in May that the state constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage.
Protests have erupted since the proposition passed, and four lawsuits challenging Proposition 8 have been filed in the state Supreme Court since Nov. 5.
Saturday's nationwide efforts called for protests at city halls beginning at 10:30 a.m. PST. Speakers at the San Francisco rally said at least 80 other cities participated.
Many in the crowd, including people dressed as devils, chickens and skeletons cloaked in black, basked in the sun on the unseasonably warm day. They waved signs reading, "When Can I Vote on Your Marriage???" "Stop the H8," "Love Thy Gaybor," "Separate is Not Equal," and "This is not about beliefs or religion. This is about a Civil Right."
Couples, families, friends, drag queens in wedding dresses and thousands of others filled Civic Center Plaza and listened to speakers that included gay couples, activists, church leaders, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano, as well as California state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco/North Bay, and Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
Roaring cheers and chants erupted as leaders punctuated their speeches with words such as freedom, equality, and gay.
Cat Kim, who organized today's event, said she felt compelled to organize after Election Day.
"(I am) just an ordinary resident who wanted to become involved," Kim said. "We will not stop until we have equality."
The Rev. Penny Nixon, who said she and her partner raise a daughter, pay taxes and contribute to their community in the same ways as any other couple, said those who hoped to see a different outcome on Nov. 4 are hurt by the results.
"The wounds go deep," Nixon said. "It is the misuse and abuse of religion that helped pass Prop. 8."
Ammiano stepped up the podium and screamed, "Everyone today is queer!"
The crowd burst into cheers as the former standup comic continued with, "Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is a queen today!"
Leno took to the podium as protestors played on President-elect Barack Obama's slogan, cheering, "Yes We Will."
"We've got the momentum," Leno said. "They're holding on by a thread. We will have marriage equality in California."
Senator Carole Migden also addressed the crowd and made her future ambitions quite clear.
"If they don't give us our liberty we're going to split this state in half. And, will you make me your governor?" she asked.
ABC7 met one man who will probably not.
"I had people booing me, trying to get in my face," said Mark Wassburg who voted "yes" on Prop 8
"The reason why I'm here is to tell these people what they're doing is wrong. A marriage is between a man and a woman, and what they're doing is destroying the social structure of the family," he said.
Clark Pingree with Mormons for Marriage has heard that argument before. He spoke Saturday about not scapegoating people and not spreading hate.
When asked if there was hope for peace between the opposing groups Pingree was optimistic saying, "I think eventually… I think we can all get along and agree to disagree."
San Francisco police Sgt. Carl Fabbri estimated the crowd at about 7,500. With the street in front of City Hall closed to allow for the protest, police cars stood by to keep a watch over the crowd as speeches continued.
When the rally ended, thousands took to the streets. A sea of protesters carrying signs marched down Market Street.
The California Highway Patrol reported that several protestors were arrested after a large crowd blocked the Octavia Street offramp from U.S. Highway 101.
Gay rights supporters are planning more events in the near future including one on December 10th called "A Day Without a Gay." They say citizens will notice a lack of fashion and flair that day.