Hundreds of people gathered outside San Francisco City Hall for a candlelight vigil tonight following a march from the city's Castro District on the eve of a historic California Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage.
The state high court is set to hear arguments Thursday on whether it should uphold Proposition 8, an initiative approved by voters in November that bans same-sex marriage.
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, addressed the crowd from the steps of City Hall.
"Do you feel the love of freedom? Do you feel the love of equality? Do you feel the love of justice? Well, so does our Supreme Court," he yelled.
"We do have the support of both houses of the state Legislature," he said.
Leno was referring to twin resolutions passed by the state Senate and Assembly this week that oppose the legality of Proposition 8.
Leno introduced the Senate resolution; Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced its counterpart.
David Chiu, the new president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, also spoke to the crowd tonight, telling them how he had to explain to his mother why he opposes Proposition 8.
Chiu, who is straight, said his mother came home from church one day and said people there had heard of Chiu's support of same-sex marriage and were speculating that he was either gay or hated God.
He said he explained that although the issue doesn't affect him directly, he sees it as part of a broader struggle.
"We are fighting the civil rights fight of our generation," he said.
Best friends Nik Ghanime, 27, and Leigh Carson, 28, who are gay, came from Oakland to catch the tail end of the march and listen to the speakers.
Carson said she thinks the march was larger at the beginning but was disappointed that there weren't more people at City Hall.
"The more people you have, the more pressure the Supreme Court feels to overturn (Proposition 8)," she said.
Neither Carson nor Ghanime is looking to marry anytime soon, but both want to be able to have the option in the future.
"I can't wait to give her away if she'll let me," a smiling Carson said of Ghanime. "I will throw you a bachelor party you'll never forget."
Speakers urged the crowd to return Thursday morning, when the Supreme Court hearing will be shown live on a Jumbotron in Civic Center Plaza, a viewing sponsored by the group Marriage Equality. The hearing begins at 9 a.m.
San Francisco police declined to provide an estimate of how many people participated in tonight's march.
The march was peaceful, but Sgt. Wilfred Williams said one person was arrested near the steps of City Hall for being drunk in public.