Community organizations and activists are expected to rally Friday in West Hollywood after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right.
The rally, including the mayors of West Hollywood and Los Angeles, is expected to begin at 6 p.m. Diane Olson and spouse Robin Tyler, plaintiffs in a 2004 lawsuit that was the first to legally challenge the prohibition on same-sex marriage in California, said they plan to join the celebration.
"Somebody asked me if I expected it to happen within my lifetime," Tyler said. "Of course I did. You have to have hope."
The court's sweeping ruling Friday knocked down the country's remaining state-level bans and handed same-sex couples a victory in a decades-long quest for equal marriage rights. Same-sex couples already could marry in 36 states, including California, and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
"With the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots this weekend, we're reminded of how long and winding the road to equality has been," California Gov. Jerry Brown said. "Today, our highest court has upheld a principle enshrined in our Constitution, but only now finally realized for same-sex couples across America."
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the city's first openly gay mayor, planned to raise a Rainbow Pride Flag over the Civic Plaza in response to the ruling.
"Love won, freedom won and equality won," Garcia said. "Millions of Americans, including myself and my longtime partner, will finally be treated equally under the law."
During the midday ceremony, Garcia also plans to thank activists and others who took part and supported the struggle for marriage equality.
Actor George Takei, who is best known as Mr. Sulu on "Star Trek" but has been a longtime gay-rights advocate, beamed with pride on Twitter as he hailed the ruling. Takei married his partner in West Hollywood after same-sex marriage was legalized in California.
"My eyes shine with tears as marriage equality is ruled the law of the land," he tweeted. "What a pride weekend it shall be."
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Supporters of Prop 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage that was ruled unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court, said Friday's ruling was disappointing, but not a surprise. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Prop 8 backers lacked standing under federal law to appeal the case, effectively leaving the Circuit Court ruling in place after years of legal struggles.
"Today's decision does grave injury to the basic concept that the people — not the courts — make the law," Prop 8 proponents Protect Marriage said in a statement. "A bare majority of the Supreme Court has abruptly cut off this ongoing debate, unilaterally imposing its view of what's good for society by suddenly discovering a new constitutional right that almost no one would have imagined just a few years ago. The 'separation of powers' they taught us in grade school is now dangerously out of balance, and it's time to remind the government that all constitutional power ultimately resides in the consent of the governed — not in kings, dictators or judges.
"Regardless of today's ruling, our coalition remains committed to strengthening and promoting the union of a man and a woman in a view of marriage that recognizes the higher purpose of serving the needs of children, not the personal desires of adults. We will continue to work toward a society that values the inherent right of every child to have both a mother and a father."
Friday's ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The cases before the court involved laws from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders and they also have refused to recognize valid marriages from elsewhere.
Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.