By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
June 26, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO – They stood together in silence, hoping for the best. Hundreds of same-sex couples and their supporters gathered inside the San Francisco City Hall at 7 a.m. today, eagerly waiting for two critical legal decisions that could forever change their lives and the lives of so many in America.
All eyes were glued to the screens, tuned to news coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that deprives federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Finally, the historic decisions came.
The crowd erupted into screams and cheers as the Supreme Court nullified DOMA and ruled that those who support the same-sex marriage ban in California do not have a leg to stand on under the law.
Jeff Tabaco and his partner of 10 years, Thom Watson were overjoyed. They are planning to tie the knot in California in September.
“This is what we wanted, what we’ve been fighting for for the last several years and it’s just gratifying that four and a half years later after Prop 8, we’ve finally seen it through,” Tabaco said.
Former San Francisco Mayor and now California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a major proponent of same-sex marriage, joined same-sex couples and their supporters in their celebration.
In 2004, Newsom ordered the city to issue licenses for same-sex marriages, a controversial move that bolstered the dialogue on equal marriage rights.
“I feel proud for all the lives that have been affirmed, relationships that have been affirmed, families whose lives are a little better today,” Newsom said.
Roderick Aviles cannot wait to get married to his partner of three years, a Spanish citizen. Now that DOMA has been deemed unconstitutional, married gay and lesbian couples are afforded more than 1,100 benefits, including the right to petition their foreign-born partners for green cards.
“I’m just glad that everyone can now be treated as equals,” Aviles remarked.
Supporters said the fight is not over, until there is marriage equality in all of America.
California is only the 13th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.
“I think it’s a good ruling. It would have been better if it could have simply said that marriage equality is for everybody,” former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said.
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The next agenda , polygamy.