SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Thousands of people were partying in the streets of San Francisco and other communities throughout the Bay Area Wednesday evening to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings which struck down California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, handing a pair of victories to supporters of same-sex marriage.
A statewide poll conducted for KPIX 5 after the court rulings were issued earlier Wednesday found a majority of Californians supported both of them; 52% agreed with the court’s Prop. 8 decision, while an even larger 59% agreed with the DOMA ruling.
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In San Francisco’s Castro District, home to one of America’s most vibrant gay and lesbian communities, thousands celebrated along Market Street, between Castro and 19th streets, in a giant victory party that featured two stages of entertainment.
Rainbows were everywhere from flags to balloons to feather boas, and people were dressed in all sorts of costumes from puffy dresses to wedding veils or in some cases wore no clothing at all. People in the crowd held signs that read “Today We Are More American” and “Marry Who You Love.”
“Our community has been on pins and needles for weeks and weeks now. We woke up this morning to wonderful news but I think a lot of us are still taking it in,” said Stuart Gaffney, a spokesman for the rally’s organizer, Marriage Equality USA. “This decision means the world to us. Many of us are feeling, for the first time, we have the full rights of citizenship.”
With the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade coming up this weekend “the timing of these decisions couldn’t be better,” Gaffney added.
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Many in the Castro crowd waved mini red and blue flags with yellow equal signs as featured speakers pumped up the gathering.
Cleve Jones, founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, praised Wednesday’s historic “milestone in our long struggle to equality and social justice,” however he noted there was plenty of work that still needs to be done.
“Overjoyed” was the word David Miner chose to describe his feelings towards the rulings. Miner, 53, was at the Castro rally with his partner Matthew Chacko. The couple have been together for 20 years and married five years ago at San Francisco City Hall, before Prop. 8 was enacted.
Naan White, 56, of San Francisco was enjoying the rally with her partner Barnie Simpson and their kids. When asked about their feelings towards the Supreme Court rulings, the family members simply gave two thumbs up each.
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Another celebration took place Wednesday evening in San Jose, with a healthy turnout outside City Hall.
One San Jose gay couple expressed the sentiments of many: hope that the latest high court rulings would make part of their lives a lot less complicated.
As Steve Disselhorst and Lorevic Rivera watched history in the making with their 14-month-old daughter, they told KPIX 5 that they saw the future of their family being secured.
“I feel validated,” said Rivera, who is currently Disselhorst’s domestic partner. “Our relationship feels validated, our family feels validated. We’re all equal in the eyes of the law, we’re equal.”
In Oakland, community groups gathered for a brief celebration at the 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue intersection before moving on to dance parties at nearby bars and clubs.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking over on the steps of City Hall, called it “a joyful day in the nation and this city.” She indicated that about 20 to 25 percent of Oakland’s population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
City Council President Pro Tem Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s first openly lesbian councilwoman, praised the court’s decisions which she said “recognizes the full humanity and equality of LGBT people and will uplift a society that values everyone.”
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Along the Peninsula in Redwood City, Marriage Equality USA also sponsored a rally outside the San Mateo County Clerk’s office that was attended by local elected officials, clergy, and activists.
The Rev. Terry Echelbarger of San Mateo’s Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church, a diverse congregation comprised primarily of LGBT people with about 10 percent of its congregation heterosexual, said her congregation was “overjoyed” by the high court’s s rulings.
“God does not discriminate,” she put it simply.
A coalition of more than 60 other clergy members of various faiths prayed on the steps of Grace Cathedral at the top of San Francisco’s Nob Hill to celebrate the high court’s decisions on marriage equality.
The Rev. Phil Lawson from the Easter Hill United Methodist Church in Richmond praised the Supreme Court for bringing justice to California and beyond. “Thank God they got it right today,” he said.
As a black and openly gay pastor, the Rev. Deborah Johnson from Inner Light Ministries in Santa Cruz spoke about fighting injustices for people in and beyond the LGBT community.
“Our message to the world is not, ‘We won,’ but ‘We are one,’” she said.
In a closing prayer, the Rev. Amos Brown said he and the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, of which he’s president, stand in solidarity with the LGBT community.
“An injustice to one is an injury to all,” he said.
But there were some dissenters to all of the Bay Area celebrations over marriage rights.
The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, denounced the Supreme Court decisions as a “tragic day for marriage and our nation,” issuing the statement while in Rome Wedenesday.
“The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage,” the Bay Area’s Roman Catholic Church leader said. “Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with secure foundation of a mother and a father.”
(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. Bay City News contributed to this report.)