Gay marriage supporters react to ruling against Proposition 8

Proposition 8 overturned
David Bowers and Bruce Ivie celebrate alongside Supervisor Scott Weiner the appeal of Prop. 8 in front of City Hall. The court ruled that the same-sex marriage ban violates the Constitution. Feb. 7, 2012. Photo by Andrew Lopez.

The announcement by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Proposition 8 had been ruled unconstitutional drew hundreds to the courthouse in support of gay marriage.

Demonstrators chanted “marriage equality” and held signs with quotes from Harvey Milk as they waited to hear the court’s decision.

Some supporters stood up to address the entire crowd, noting that they felt optimistic about the imminent announcement.

“We have great faith in the courts today to make the right decision for all Californians, not just those who are same sex couples and families,” said Rev. Roland Stringfellow, coordinator of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations, an organization that promotes LGBT rights within religious communities. “Everyone is impacted by this decision and by this judgment today.”

Minutes after Rev. Stringfellow spoke, the ruling was announced. The crowd cheered and hugged one another, displaying elation about the court’s decision. Cars drove by honking in support of those who thought the ban was unconstitutional.

Stuart Gaffney, an anti-Proposition 8 activist, expressed his emotions after the announcement.

“We’ve seen marriage equality come and go in California but this gives us hope that marriage equality is going to be back in California soon,” said Gaffney.

Joe and Frank Capley-Alfano, who have been a couple for 12 years and were first married in 2008, were also thrilled with the decision.

“We’re officially a family,” said Joe Capley-Alfano.

His partner mirrored his enthusiasm for the outcome of the day’s events.

“It feels great,” said Frank Capley-Alfano. “All the hard work after all of these years has finally paid off.”

John Lewis, another activist demonstrating against Proposition 8, spoke to supporters as the crowd continued to celebrate the finding.

“It is a huge victory for all freedom loving people who believe that every single human being in this state, in this country, deserves the fundamental freedom to marry the person that you love and that you choose,” said Lewis.

Shortly after Lewis spoke, supporters marched a few blocks from the Ninth Circuit Court at 7th and Mission streets to City Hall for a press conference held by City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

When the group arrived, Stringfellow, who was leading the crowd to City Hall, was one of a few who spoke before the press conference began.

“We are so very grateful to be here on this day at the steps of justice, the steps of City Hall, and again we are going to stand for equality, we are going to stand for love, we are going to stand for everyone to be included,” said Rev. Stringfellow.

A rally is scheduled tonight at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center on Market Street at 5 p.m.