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UPDATED: San Diegans react to historic Prop 8 ruling

SAN DIEGO – Within seconds of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling to uphold a lower court's decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional was posted online, an outpouring of celebration erupted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was one of the first organizations to release the ruling, with media such as San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reporting on the decision less than five minutes after its release.

College professor Norman Tipton, a single father of three, reached out to SDGLN immediately following the decision to share his excitement:

"The proponents of Prop. 8 did the gay community a great -- if unintended -- favor by setting the wheels in motion for greater recognition of our rights."

Brandon Tate-McWilliams, who has fought for marriage equality in California for many years, including the No on 8 campaign in 2008, married his partner Kyle in New York because of the court drama surrounding marriage equality in his home state of California. Tate-McWilliams said that today’s decision is a huge victory for the LGBT community and his family:

"As a member of the staff for the Prop. 8 campaign, I witnessed the pain of our loss firsthand. Kyle proposed to me on Christmas Day 2008, only a month after our rights were stripped away.

"When Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, we were one of the first couples in line to apply for our marriage license at the San Diego County Administration offices. Unfortunately, the stay issued on his decision forced us to have to go to New York State where we finally got our official marriage license this past December. We proudly still hosted our friends and family for our wedding ceremony here in San Diego.

"Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that Kyle and I, share the same rights as all Californians and our family is just as meaningful as other families in San Diego. We are proud of this decision! Today, we stand ready to celebrate with our community as we take in this victory; tomorrow, we will be ready to continue the fight toward full equality for all Americans."

Dr. Delores Jacobs, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center said that today’s ruling gives the community great hope:

"While we continue to work and strive for the day when same-sex couples in California can again marry the person they love, we are given great hope by today's ruling," Jacobs said.

"In spite of spending years of time and millions of dollars to eliminate the fundamental human right of marriage for same-sex couples, the supporters of Proposition 8 have continued to fail to demonstrate any legally compelling reason or basis in fact to deny marriage equality to same-sex couples in California. Those who supported Prop 8 have continued to employ desperate measures in order to uphold their discriminatory proposition. Today, the Ninth Circuit's ruling wisely refused to let them succeed."

The Center also sent out an e-mail blast minutes after the ruling titled, "Love is Victorious." The statement reminded readers that same-sex couples are not yet able to marry, due to the next round of appeals.

"Once again the decision was stayed while the opponents of equality again appeal to a higher court, again attempting to delay the day when we are fully free,” The Center wrote.

The news of the stay, however, was undaunting to most who posted to social media sites like Facebook:

R Gang Eatery (taking a sentence directly from the ruling): “Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.” So long, #Prop8

Brett Serwalt: Thanks 9th Circuit - reason prevails once again.

Carin Scheinin: My entire news feed is about Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional! A wonderful victory in this long struggle for equality ♥

Brandon Smith: In honor of today's Appeals Court ruling, I've changed my profile photo. Though many know I tend to stay quiet when it comes to politics, it is my feeling that no one should be denied the simple act of marrying the one that they love.

Scott Sabens: Yay for gay!

Kyle Aycock: WE WIN!

Other local community leaders and elected officials also joined in to express their feelings about today's historic ruling.

Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride, responded to the news:

“Today is a Day of Pride. For the millions of Americans who already have the freedom to marry the person they love, nothing changes. But for the thousands of loving couples who have been denied the right to marry the person they love because of hatred, ignorance and discrimination, at long last they too are able to enjoy the equality and respect they deserve and the freedom to marry.”

Longtime marriage equality activist Fernando Lopez:

"Today we stand in the light of justice, as yet another court affirms that gay and lesbian couples should be afforded equal protection under the law. Yet with a stay still in place preventing loving couples from getting married, justice delayed remains justice denied. The freedom to marry has been denied to our community for far to long. There is more work to do, but today we celebrate this victorious step as we continue to mobilize towards full equality."

While pleased with the ruling that affirms the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8, the San Diego Alliance for Marriage (SAME) said in a statement that they will continue to fight until Californians achieve full marriage equality:

"We recognize that the court’s decision today strengthens the argument that there should be no discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, but we are angered that the courts are allowing this judicial process to stand in the way of justice delivered, by granting a continuation of the stay on the decision.

"In a nation that upholds the separation of church and state, and the right to equal treatment under the law, it is a shame that a legal process can be used to circumvent justice for the oppressed. The courts, by maintaining a stay on the decision, are allowing proponents of Prop. 8 to impede justice, by taking any one of several steps to prolong the life of this 'dead horse'."

State Assemblymember Toni Atkins:

"Once again, those who oppose marriage equality have had their day in court, and once again, a court has affirmed that gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry are not second class citizens, but instead are entitled to share in the freedom and justice promised by the constitution to every American.

"While the opponents no doubt will continue their campaign of fear and misinformation, the light of truth and freedom shines on us today. I am confident that light will continue to shine, no matter how often they try to douse it.

"As one of the 18,000 couples who were able to marry while marriage for same sex couples was legal in California in 2008, I can tell you that it does make a difference. Marriage is more than a piece of paper; it is a formal acknowledgment that one’s committed relationship is valued. I look forward to the day when every couple who wants to marry may do so. And I know that day will come."

City Councilmember Todd Gloria:

"I am tremendously grateful for the Court's ruling today. This is a great day for all people seeking full equality under the law that every American deserves. The battle is far from over, but I know this civil right will be realized and appreciate the Court’s clear determination in this case."

Mayor Jerry Sanders:

"Today’s decision is yet another huge step towards creating a society where everyone is afforded the right to marry. Marriage encourages people to take responsibility for each other, provides greater security for children, and helps our country live up to the promises set forth in our founding documents. These are important values for a strong society, and we should encourage them. I am looking forward to the day when all Americans can enjoy the freedom to marry the person they love."

Four of the leading candidates running for mayor of San Diego also responded.

Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher:

"I support marriage equality and any movement towards that goal."

City Councilmember Carl DeMaio:

"The courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality. This is a good day for the gay and lesbian community."

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:

"Today's ruling is an important legal victory that finally brings Californians closer than ever to marriage equality in our state. For those of us who were speaking out against Prop 8 when it was on the ballot four years ago, today's ruling is a long-awaited legal affirmation upholding the constitutional rights of the LGBT community."

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner:

"With the 9th Circuit Court ruling, we have taken a step toward achieving full marriage equality in California. But the fight is not over. With future court cases looming, we must continue to press to see that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are finally treated as equals in the eyes of the law.

"My friends, I promise you, we will reach the mountaintop. Marriage equality will come to this country. As a Congressman, or Mayor, I will do everything I can to work toward this goal."

Former City Councilmember Scott Peters, who is running for Congress, said:

"Denying marriage to same-sex couples is wrong; today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that it is also unconstitutional. This is a tremendous victory for equality, fairness, and anti-discrimination in the State of California. The ability of an individual to care for another person, be in a committed relationship, or to be a good parent is not determined by anything other than the character of that person.

"I am proud to stand with my friends today as we celebrate this victory. And I look forward to the day when we can stop wasting our time and resources fighting this archaic battle and move forward together toward a more tolerant society."

Local political groups also commented on the decision, including the Log Cabin Republicans and the San Diego Democrats for Equality organization.

From Vicky Kerley, President, on behalf of the Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego:

"Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego will continue to work for full equality as we always have. As we did with DADT, we will not stop until all are free to work, live, and love openly and without discrimination. Our unwavering commitment to this fight remains unchanged. Changing hearts and minds is done one person at a time. Our community’s mission is far from over and we look forward to standing together and ensuring liberty and justice for all."

From Doug Case, President of San Diego Democrats for Equality:

"Although today's court decision will not be the final word, the ruling is like a large rock creating another giant crack in the ice of inequality. It's only a matter of time until injustice is shattered. I'm confident that the Supreme Court will eventually concur that inalienable rights must never be subjected to a popular vote, and that equality under the law will ultimately prevail.

"We are also reminded of the importance of the Supreme Court and the neccesity of re-electing Barack Obama, who is likely to have an opportunity of appointing another pro-equality court justice during his second term."

Councilmember Gloria will join a coalition of community groups gathered together to celebrate today’s ruling, at a march and rally this evening in Hillcrest.

Participants should gather at the corner Sixth and University Avenues at 6 pm and expect to march over to the Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, where an Uptown Planners meeting will be voting on the fate of Hillcrest’s Pride Flag project.

Those who wish to speak in favor of the flag project may enter the meeting to show their support, while others will rally on the steps outside of the community center, located on Vermont Street just north of University Avenue.

For more information on tonight’s celebration, click HERE.

Check back to San Diego Gay & Lesbian News throughout the day, as we will continue to report on the community's reaction to today's ruling.