Same sex marriage supporters celebrate decision


The Berkeley plaintiffs at the center of the Prop 8 case were thrilled by what the historic decisions on Prop 8 and the federal anti-gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, mean for their family.

"And today we can go back to California and say to our own children, all four of our boys, 'Your family is just as good as everybody else's family,'" Sandy Stier said.

There were cheers and jubilation on the steps of San Francisco City Hall as city leaders, members of the LGBT community and their supporters packed the rotunda to be part of history.

City Hall is where the opening salvo was fired in the legal battle nine years ago when then mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

"The arc of history, as Dr. King said, and we quote this because it's true, the long arc of history always bends towards justice, but you got to get up there and bend it, people have to take action," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

One of those early pioneers celebrating Wednesday was Phyllis Lyon. She and the late Del Martin were together 51 years, the first couple legally married in the state.

Now the door is wide open.

"I never thought it would happen this way; I'm so glad it's happening," Lyon said.

In a 5-4 decision, justices decided Prop 8's backers had no legal standing in federal court. City Attorney Dennis Herrera had hoped they would consider the merits.

"It's still a victory; we'll see marriage equality restored in California and it's the largest state in the union," Herrera said.

State officials moved quickly to signal their approval. Gov. Jerry Brown, who refused to defend Prop 8 as governor and in his previous job as attorney general, said he had directed the California Department of Public Health to start issuing licenses to gay couples as soon as the hold ordered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is lifted.

The Alameda County clerk's office is gearing up for an influx of wedding license applications from gay couples. The application form has already been updated to be gender neutral and and the wedding room is ready to go once they get the go ahead from the state.

In Santa Clara County, the clerk's office is actually training some of their part-time workers to perform weddings.

Clerks in San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz and Contra Costa counties all say they'll be ready too.

Once the stay is lifted and they're given the go ahead from the state, many of the county clerks said they will add extra staff and hours to accommodate all those wanting to marry.

When the ruling came down, people in San Francisco's Castro District came out.

"I could have stayed in bed and watched it in my PJs on the TV; I said heck no, I'm going to be down here in the thick of it," San Francisco resident Safiya Delaney said. "I've been here all morning so it's so cool to be part of something you know will god won in history."

The corner of Market and Castro was the place to be seen, heard and hugged.

Mary Beth Gabriel and Pam Shaheen came from Atlanta to celebrate Pride Week. They've been together for 20 years.

"We're coming back to get married and our honeymoon will be in Hawaii, so we are going to have to plan that now," Gabriel said.

The ruling comes just days before this Sunday's Pride Parade. The organizers are preparing for a lot more people this year.

"Traditionally we've had about one million for Pride Sunday," parade CEO Earl Plante said. "This year it brings it to a whole other level. We are expecting 1.4 million."

A large rally and celebration was held Wednesday evening and the city shut down some streets in the area in anticipation of what was described as a massive block party. Rallies and celebrations were also held in Oakland, San Jose, and Redwood City.

ABC7 News reporters Carolyn Tyler, Lyanne Melendez, Nick Smith, David Louie, Laura Anthony, Nannette Miranda and Vic Lee and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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