After Tuesday's historic arguments before the Supreme Court on the legality of California's gay marriage ban, the long wait began for the court's June decision.
But the debate over Proposition 8, the state's 2008 ballot initiative, raged on among advocates and legal experts. Hundreds of gay-rights activists planned demonstrations in San Francisco and on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, and hundreds more demonstrated -- both for and against same-sex marriage -- at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.
California's gay and lesbian couples remain on hold for now, uncertain about the outcome but hopeful that the court will recognize their desire to marry as an equal right under law.
"I have a good feeling that this is a new beginning," said Sacramentan Diana Luiz, 52, who would like to marry her partner of seven years, Nicola Simmersbach.
"This may be one of the great civil rights fights we'll have in this country. I feel like it's time," Luiz said. "I'm excited, and I'm tired of waiting."
The proposition's author, Folsom attorney Andy Pugno, was optimistic, as well.
"I thought we had a great day in the Supreme Court," he said, as he walked to lunch after attending the hearing in Washington. "We clearly made the winning case for Proposition 8 and are looking forward to a good decision upholding the vote of California."
But some legal experts considered his optimism unfounded, considering that the justices spent time discussing whether Pugno's advocacy group, Protect Marriage, should have the legal right to challenge the appellate ruling that reversed Proposition 8.
Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California's passage of the ballot measure denied the state's gay and lesbian citizens a right they briefly had during a few months in 2008, when some 18,000 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses.
"I don't think Andy should be thrilled, nor should anybody on his side," said McGeorge School of Law professor Larry Levine, who attended the oral arguments.
"I don't think the court will find there's no standing. They may write a narrow, substantive opinion like the 9th Circuit's. I think there's a likelihood that they'll strike down Proposition 8."
While Levine thinks the June ruling will apply only to California rather than breaking new ground on same-sex marriage nationally, UC Davis law professor Vikram Amar said it's possible the court will issue a broader civil rights ruling.
"But who knows what will happen when they write their opinion?" he said. "It didn't seem that the liberals on the court were in a great rush to decide in a sweeping direction, so we'll see."
Meanwhile, advocates for the gay and lesbian community scrambled to parse the potential meaning behind the tone and direction of the justices' questions.
For example, were the justices' concerns about the plaintiffs' legal standing an indication that they would rule on that issue alone?
"That would be incredibly disappointing," said Shara Murphy, executive director of the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. "I hope they come through on the side of history. This is about equality. We have to draw a line in the sand.
"When something is so fundamental to the way we treat and respect one
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