San Francisco's Castro neighborhood was center stage for many in the Bay Area to cheer on the Supreme Court's ruling. Terry McSweeney reports.
Thousands of people were dancing to DJs on Castro Street Wednesday night. The official party ended at 9 p.m., but revelers lingered until about 3 a.m. Thursday. Clean up crews were still sweeping the streets at sunrise.
They flocked to the Castro District to celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling that cleared the way for same-sex weddings to begin again in about a month.
In one of two 5-4 rulings, the high court cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California, holding that the coalition of religious conservative groups that qualified a voter-approved ban for the ballot did not have the authority to defend it after state officials refused.
The justices thus let stand a San Francisco trial court's ruling in August 2010 that overturned the ban.
In the other, the court wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, putting legally married gay couples on equal federal footing with all other married Americans, allowing them to receive the same tax, health and pension benefits.
The court sidestepped the larger question of whether banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, and states other than California and the 12 others where gay couples already have the right to wed were left to hash out the issue within their borders.
Kristen Anderson of San Francisco finally had to sit out a dance Wednesday night. The long time same-sex rights activist had to stop dancing but she could not stop smiling.
"We worked so long for this I can't help but just laugh. But when I went to bed last night I was scared." Two blocks away Kate Davis was in tears.
"My girlfriend is Brazilian and I would love to marry her but that would be a real bad idea -until today."
Of course many people do not approve of Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings, but they were nowhere to be found Wednesday night.
There were recently engaged women, or so their t-shirt said. And lots of rainbows, the symbol of gay pride.
For one young man, William King of San Francisco, the news came from an unexpected source.
"My mom called right when it happened, the last person you think would call about this. The joy in her voice was overwhelming."
Police say the crowd was well behaved and very positive.
This was their night to celebrate.