In separate decisions, the high court ruled unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act's denial of federal benefits to married same-sex couples and said defenders of a 2008 California proposition defining marriage as "between a man and a woman" lacked standing to make their case.
The Santa Clara County Clerk's Office said it was waiting for a go-ahead from county lawyers before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Gov. Jerry Brown said the effect of the ruling is that the 2010 federal district court's decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is left intact and the proposition cannot be enforced.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said all 58 counties in the state must now recognize the right of same-sex couples to legally marry. Harris asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift its stay on the 2010 district-court ruling and allow same-sex marriages to take place.
It was speculated that the Ninth Circuit would wait 25 days to lift its stay on the 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker — the period in which petitioners technically can seek a rehearing before the Supreme Court.
In Palo Alto, the Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern of the Unitarian Universalist Church had promised to offer free weddings for one day should the court rule against Proposition 8.
Morgenstern is out of the country until July 23 but will likely offer the weddings when she returns, a church staff member said Wednesday morning.
Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, who married his partner of 26 years, Dennis McShane, in 2008, said he welcomed the Supreme Court rulings.
"Marriage equality has been a priority and a dream of the LGBT community for decades," said Gordon, who chairs California's Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus.
"Today, with the Supreme Court's announcements, we are realizing that dream and we now celebrate equal marriage rights for all Californians.
"We must also remember that our work is not yet done. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have achieved the dream," Gordon said.
"However, public opinion is rapidly changing," he continued, citing the legalization of gay marriage in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota in May and a poll that showed support of a majority of Americans.
"With momentum on our side, we will not rest until every American can exercise their right to marry who they love," he said.
U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, also praised the decisions.
"Today, the decisions of the Supreme Court make real the words and promise of our constitution by striking down unfair barriers for same-sex couples and returning marriage equality to California," Eshoo said.
"Now the fullness of our constitution reaches into the lives of millions of Americans, making our nation a more perfect union."
Supporters of California's Proposition 8 said that the ruling, which was made on the basis of standing rather than the court's stance on the broader issue, "does not directly resolve questions about the scope of the (Ninth Circuit) trial court's order against Prop. 8."
"We will continue to defend Prop. 8 and seek its enforcement until such time as there is a binding statewide order that renders Prop. 8 unenforceable," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund.
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