SAN DIEGO - San Diego-area supporters of same-sex marriage hailed Wednesday's decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an appeal by supporters of voter-passed Proposition 8 in California and to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Meanwhile, backers of the proposition, which limited marriage in the state to one man and one woman, said they will continue their legal battle.
"This marks a long overdue end to federally sanctioned discrimination and the beginning of a bright, loving future for millions of Americans," San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said. "I am proud to be a part of today's celebration of equality which unites us toward a future where all Americans are truly equal."
"Today's rulings are a legal home run for civil rights," said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who is married to another woman. "The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the promise of equality that is a fundamental part of our constitution and as a result, same-sex couples will no longer be treated as second-class citizens at the federal level and in California."
She said it was especially gratifying to know that same-sex couples will be eligible for federal benefits because of the DOMA ruling.
Delores Jacobs, chief executive officer of The LGBT Community Center in Hillcrest, said the rulings were "civil rights decisions for the history books."
"This is nothing short of monumental," Jacobs said. "For Californians, the decision on Proposition 8 will close the door on an ugly chapter in our state's history, where for the first -- and hopefully only -- time we allowed our state constitution to be cheapened and soiled by writing into it discrimination against a particular group of Californians."
Ex-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who has a lesbian daughter, said the ruling "marks a significant victory for our country and for marriage equality."
"This means that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, and I am glad that Governor Brown is already pushing for same-sex marriages to resume in California," Sanders said. "As many of you know, this issue is very personal for me and for my family. I will continue to speak out on this issue until equality is provided for all couples."
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said, "I am elated to know that same-sex couples now have the opportunity to marry and look forward to celebrating with friends who are no longer legally barred from pursuing their own happiness, regardless of who they love.
"Today is a great day to celebrate a renewed commitment to equal treatment and respect of one another, but I pledge to defend equal rights for all people as the injustice created by inequality still persists in many corners of our society," the lawmaker said.
Equality is never achieved easily, but is worth fighting for, Gonzalez said.
San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby said, "We are all lifted up when freedom and opportunity expand to include more people. That's a core Democratic value -- and a deeply American value. And that's why the fight for full equality must continue, for marriage and for all civil rights."
At a news conference in front of the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown San Diego, supporters of traditional marriage said they would continue the fight.
Charles LiMandri, a Rancho Santa Fe attorney who worked on Proposition 8, said the ruling on the initiative was only over standing, not the merits.
"If the governor orders county clerks to start issuing marriage licenses (to same-sex couples), I can guarantee there's going to be litigation to stop that," LiMandri said.
"The will of the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 deserves to be vindicated until we have a clear and decisive ruling from the highest court," LiMandri said. "The United States Supreme Court could easily have said Proposition 8 is struck down -- same-sex couples can get married in California. They didn't do that."
Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of The Ruth Institute, said the rulings bring some disappointment, but there is "more than a glimmer of hope" for the grassroots Californians who support the proposition.
"The ordinary people of this country, of all races, of all religions, of all political parties, support traditional marriage," said Morse, whose organization campaigns for marriage between a man and a woman.
Dran Reese, director of the Salt and Light Council, said the high court rulings were "unfair and unjust" and "brought shame to America."
Reese, whose Solana Beach-based group promotes biblical moral values in the public sector, said gays and lesbians want the legalization of same-sex marriage to justify "ungodly behavior."
Sen. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, said, "Religious liberties have been put at further risk because the governor and the attorney general allowed their personal views to cloud their professional responsibility to defend Proposition 8 in federal court, but I will continue to defend the traditional definition of marriage -- that is marriage between one man and one woman."
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