Elated couples and same-sex marriage supporters celebrated at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday morning as they learned that the U.S. Supreme Court had dismissed an appeal in the Proposition 8 case and struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Karen Topakian, 58, and her partner Peg Stevenson, 50, live in San Francisco's Mission District. The two have been together for 25 years.
They came to City Hall at 6:30 a.m. to witness the "historic moment" with others, Topakian said.
Both agreed it feels good to have the option to wed.
"Now we have to decide if we want to get married," Topakian said.
She said she is excited about the benefits she would qualify for if she were married, although she noted, "I don't need the government to recognize my relationship, love and humanity."
There is some disagreement about what the Proposition 8 ruling means.
The high court didn't rule on the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban but rather decided that its sponsors didn't have the legal authority to appeal a lower court ruling striking it down.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Gov. Jerry Brown both said they expect same-sex weddings to resume soon, but the Proposition 8 sponsors have vowed to continue fighting to enforce the ban. Frank Reyes, 54, and his partner Paul Brady, 47, live together in the city's Castro District and were holding hands at City Hall Wednesday.
Brady called this morning's news "surreal" and said he is happy to now have the same marriage rights as heterosexual citizens.
"It's nice to be on this side of things," Brady said. A few minutes later, an ecstatic Reyes yelled, "I just proposed to him!" Brady said yes, he said. Bobby Spencer, 47, a resident of San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, said he woke up at 5:30 a.m. today to make it to City Hall in time for the rulings.
He said he has lost sleep this week because he was so anxious to hear what would happen. This morning, he joked, "My future ex-husband is somewhere in this room."
Two large screens had been set up inside City Hall for the occasion; one was tuned to CNN and the other showed posts from SCOTUSblog, the widely trusted source of breaking Supreme Court news. Outside City Hall, numerous motorists honked in support of same-sex marriage. After this morning's gathering, many left City Hall to head to work.