Gay rights advocates gathered at the Mountain View Caltrain station Wednesday evening to march in celebration of the decision delivered by a federal judge to overturn Proposition 8, the controversial initiative approved by California voters in 2008 that banned same-sex marriages.
"In Mountain View, we pride ourselves on our diversity," Mayor Ronit Bryant said. "We prove it every day in the way we live, in the way that we work together, in the way that we've built our lives together.
"We prove it in our very firm opposition to any type of discrimination. Congratulations to all of us."
The 100 or more marchers seemed to share that sentiment.
"Gay, straight, black, white -- marriage is a civil right!" they chanted as they marched down Castro Street. People eating at restaurants along the way looked on and occasionally cheered in support.
No one actively protested the march, which eventually made its way to City Hall, where several local officials spoke. One passing driver signaled his disapproval with his middle finger, however.
Ray Hixson, co-chair of the Santa Clara County chapter of Marriage Equality U.S.A., said he was thrilled with the decision. "It means equality and dignity for every citizen," he said.
Hixson said did not come out of the closet until he was 36 for fear of the stigma he faced growing up in his southern town. His parents still do not talk to him, he told the crowd over a bullhorn.
He said Proposition 8 hurts families and children, pointing to his estrangement from his parents.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote in his decision that the proposition was unconstitutional.
"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote. "Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples."
Cecilia Colombetti, a lesbian living in Mountain View, said not being able to marry her partner is unfair to their two sons. "It's important for our sons that we be able to get married so they know that their family is no different than any other family," she said.
Colombetti came to the rally with one of her sons, who squirmed furiously when a train pulled into the station. "He likes the train," she said. "Just like every other 3-year-old."
"We're living history," Sally Lieber, former speaker pro tempore of the state Assembly, told the enthusiastic crowd.
"We're living the opportunity to take unfair legislation out of our constitution."
The final talk was given by members of Mountain View-based Outlet, a support system for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, which has about 4,000 participants.
"Even though they're not going to get married any time soon, they still should have the same right as everyone else," said Eileen Ross, Outlet's director.
Teens from Outlet shared personal stories and reactions to the ruling.
"Everyone deserves to love no matter what. No one is our enemy," said Cyrus, a 17-year-old Iranian-American who was raised Mormon. "My goal in life it to spread awareness. That's our biggest enemy: not people, ignorance."
Not all was celebration in response to the ruling.
ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Proposition 8, called the decision "a disappointment," and vowed to appeal the judgment in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"It is disturbing that the trial court, in order to strike down Prop. 8, has literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent when casting their votes for Prop. 8," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, in an official statement.
Michael Wald, a law professor at Stanford University, said he had expected Walker would overturn the proposition. He said attorneys defending Proposition 8 failed to demonstrate that the state would have a vested interest in preserving the traditional definition of marriage.
The defense "did not present credible expert testimony that there was any reason to distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages other than a distaste for same-sex marriages," Wald said.
Moving forward in the appeals process will be difficult for the defense, according to Wald. That is because they cannot introduce new evidence in the appeals process and because, in appeals such as these, the lower court's decision is presumed to be right.
Wald said the defense will have to argue that Walker did not consider their argument carefully enough.
"I think the defense faces an uphill battle," he said.