Gay marriage supporters faced off with police in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex weddings.
Decrying what they maintain is an unconstitutional denial of a civil right to members of the gay community, opponents of the ban vowed to continue their fight in the streets, courts and ballot box.
AdvertisementWilliam Lawson, 47, got word of the court's ruling on his mobile telephone while shopping in San Francisco's gay Castro District with his 43-year-old spouse Randy Nadeau.
Lawson and Nadeau said they have been a couple for 17 years and married two days before Californians voted 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent to modify the state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"We're happy we are married, but sad and upset for the rest of the people," Nadeau said. "We're not going to rest until everyone gets the same opportunity."
Lawson's white T-shirt bore the words "All you need is love." Nadeau's blue shirt bore the words "I DO" in large white letters and his belt buckle was a rhinestone peace sign.
A crowd of nearly 1,000 demonstrators rallied at the steps of San Francisco's City Hall shortly after the end of the working day. Placards waved above the throng bore messages such as "Fight Back," "Ignorance Breeds Hate" and "Lesbos for Love."
Cheers and applause sounded as speakers demanded marriage equality for gays and decried the referendum and the court ruling.
"We have to hit the ballots as soon as possible; no waiting," said Scott Acosta, 34, who married his 26-year-old husband Michael a day before the November vote in favor of the ban.
"If we do this in 2010, it will be the biggest issue on the ballot."
Acosta rushed to City Hall to wed when it grew clear that the referendum banning gay marriage was heading for victory.
"The wedding was beautiful," Acosta said. "The circumstances are ridiculous."
They said that Tuesday was full of "congratulations and I'm sorries" from friends.
"I think people are scared," Acosta said of why the ban won at the polls in a state known for its liberal mores. "I don't think people know what it is like to be us. The fact that we are willing to marry and take responsibility for each other should be respected."
People need to understand that their beliefs regarding family and marriage can be honored without stripping equal rights from gay couples, according to Acosta.
"This is disgusting from a state that is supposed to be at the forefront of the nation," said 25-year-old Nicole Friend, who recently moved to California from Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal.
"I came here because I thought it was something I would be proud to be a part of, and I'm really not."
Ray Roldan, 29, said he is certain that one day he will be able to marry a partner of his choosing in California.
"I know who I am and I know what I want," Roldan said. "I still believe in God and I know God wouldn't want hate. I'm not married yet, but it is going to happen."
Castro resident Frank Bachorski spoke of same-sex couples discussing the potential for class action and small claims lawsuits against those denying gays the right to marry.
Gay marriage supporters have vowed to take the matter back to voters next year with a referendum that would lift the ban on same-sex marriages.
"I just can't understand how they could uphold denying someone equal rights," Bachorski said. "This is going to wind up costing the state a lot of money and trouble."