Celebration is too calm a word. For two hours, the heart of West Hollywood burst with boisterous joy, gratitude, pride, applause, marriage proposals and promises, laughter, tons of couples - some with marriage licenses, some with children - bubbles, candy, American and California flags - and reminders that the battle for full marriage equality is not over as bi-national couples asked "What about MY husband?"
More pictures after the jump. Click to embiggen.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department estimated the crowd at between 800-1000 gathered at the rally site on San Vicente Boulevard, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue.
The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center orchestrated the rally - complete with a huge symbolic cake and a trellis of flowers.
Lambda Legal's Legal Director Jon Davidson and openly gay L.A. City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl spent the day talking to reporters - but both were still excited and energized by the history-making California Supreme Court ruling.
"It's hard to image the decision could be better," Davidson said. "This means that sexual orientation will get as rigorous scrutiny as discrimination based on race or sex. This really means full equality... That's huge. There's never been a state Supreme Court that's done that before."
The Center's CEO Lorri Jean emceed the event, starting off by thanking California Supreme Court Justice Ronald George and the other "courageous" justices "who bravely took the lead and did the right thing... Today, in our state, liberty and justice for all became a reality... Oh, my God! Today, the world changed for LGBT people."
Jean noted behind her on stage the flags of the other countries - the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, and South Africa - and the state of Massachusetts - that recognize marriage for lesbian and gay couples. "Today, the great state of California joins their number," she said.
"California has some of the best civil rights lawyers in the world," Jean said, introducing Lambda Legal's Jenny Pizer - who asked her surprised longtime partner Doreena Wong to marry her - and Jody Marksamer from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
They gave "shout outs" to the other attorneys involved in the case - including the ACLU, Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson (who Pizer called "the brain trust of our community") and David Codell.
Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute and Adam Romero, also of the Institute, were also at the rally.
Doreena said yes.
Other speakers included:
Carey Davidson, Vice-President of the board for Equality California, another plaintiff in the case. (Board President John Duran, West Hollywood's former mayor, is in China at the invitation of the Chinese government)
West Hollywood mayor Jeffrey Prang, who noted that West Hollywood's city government is still a gay majority
LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl who talked about the importance of coming out
Karin Wang - from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and API Equality
Coral Lopez - from the Latino LGBT advocacy group Bienestar (who cracked them up in Spanish...)
And Rev. Art Cribbs, United Church of Christ - who brought many to tears when he said, "As a heterosexual, married man, I apologize for behavior that did harm to who you are..."
But the night of love and joy was best exemplified by the couples - Robin Tyler and Diane Olson - who filed the first lawsuit with attorney Gloria Allred after being refused a license at the Beverly Hills Courthouse on Valentine's Day 2004.
Who joined with Lorri Jean and her longtime partner Gina Calvelli and Jenny Pizer and Doreena Wong to start the cake and champagne celebration - to the sounds of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles
The court said: Let them eat cake - and they did...
Other couples celebrated too -
- Diane Abbitt (first female co-chair of MECLA) and her partner in love, life and business (Envirolution, producing an environmentally-safe automotive additive), Bernadette Abbruzze
- Famed performance artist Tim Miller and his famous first-time author bi-national partner Alistair McCartney - who said his visa is running out...and while the ruling doesn't effect the federal law that might force him to leave, he's still happy about the court's decision
- And 20 year olds Jennifer Ehrenreich and Nikkie Jimenez who have been in love for 8 1/2 months (they met through the LifeWorks Bike Out), plan to move in together next month, and hope to get married this winter...
But amid the joyful noise came word of caution and the rallying cry that the fight for full equality is not over. Lorri Jean and others beseeched the crowd to get involved with Equality for All - the statewide coalition created to battle the expected antigay marriage constitutional amendment expected to be place on the November ballot. If passed, the measure could invalidate the court's decision.
In a brief interview after the rally, Julia Medvedicova, a lesbian whose life was threatened in Moscow, Russia (she's seeking asylum), and Michelle Soliman, who recently left the military - also remind us that the marriage victory in California is still but one step - a very important step - towards full equality for all.
But ironically - in the end - it was the handsome and very single Jim Key - Chief Public Affairs Officer for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center...who walked off with the wedding cake....