Outside the court, large crowds began arriving hours before the ruling was to be released. Police set up barricades to keep the two groups separated. After the ruling, gay-marriage advocates began blocking off San Francisco intersections in protest.
The ruling angered many on both sides in the crowd. Conservatives said that the court should have invalidated the 18,000 marriages, while LGBT supporters said the ruling creates two classes of gay citizens in the state.
The group Marriage Equality will hold solidarity marches in communities across California tonight. Similar marches will be held in other cities across the country.
The effort to legalize same-sex marriage for all Californians now rests with two groups preparing voter measures to overturn Prop 8 in 2010.
The California Secretary of State has given the group Yes on Equality until Aug. 17 to collect the nearly 700,000 signatures needed to qualify its initiative for the 2010 ballot. It would ask voters to repeal Prop 8. The other, by two college students, would strike the word “marriage” from all state laws.
Prop 8 was passed by voters in November by a slim 52 percent. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights immediately filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the November Prop 8 vote. They were joined by additional suits by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles and a legal opinion by California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
For the court there were three issues to be determined: Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution; Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution; and If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8.