Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the voter-approved Proposition 8, saying it is unconstitutional. However, the judge issued a temporary stay of his own order, so same-sex couples will not be able to get married at this time.
The federal courthouse in San Francisco is where it all began back in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the courthouse is where supporters returned Wednesday.
The decision was met by cheers. Then, same-sex marriage supporters quickly marched to City Hall and the county clerk's office. It was an urgent mission for two women in particular.
"We're here to apply for a marriage license," they said.
However, they were unable to beat the stay imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. No new same-sex marriages are happening at this point, but that is not enough to stop supporters from celebrating the landmark ruling.
Walker overturned voter-approved Prop 8 saying it is unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses. According the Judge Walker, "Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification."
The plaintiffs, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier from Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo from Burbank, are ecstatic.
"Today, we can go to sleep knowing that our hopes and our dreams to build our family and have legal marriage can be realized and are closer to becoming true," Stier said.
Ted Olsen and David Boies are the winning legal team.
"Today we eliminate the last official area of discrimination," Boies said.
Prop 8 backers are extremely disappointed. The Alliance Defense Fund called the ruling "dangerous" and the group Save California is pinning its hopes on the appeals process.
"The judge has chucked the constitution, imposed his own agenda," says Randy Thomasson with SaveCalifornia.com. "He's made a lot of people happy in the gay community in San Francisco, but he is the most dangerous type of judge in America."
Opponents like Thomasson keep pointing out that 52 percent of the voters approved Proposition 8 and they say they will file an immediate appeal.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called Wednesday's ruling "a major victory for equal rights."
"It's not the first step. I mean everyone says this is the first step. We've had 100 first steps. This is another step in a very long process, but perhaps the most compelling and important and historic," he said.
On the other side of the issue, Bill May with the group "Catholics For A Common Cause," says the ruling goes against the will of the voters.
"This is the second time they've spoken on marriage and it's just another example of judges taking over and corrupting our democracy," he said.
May says his organization is confident Judge Walker's ruling will be overturned on appeal.
Supporters of same-sex marriage plan to march from the Castro to City Hall starting at 6 tonight. There will be a rally held at City Hall Plaza between 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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