"My partner Tim and I have been together 18 years," said Roy Cook, a longtime Pleasanton resident. Cook and Tim Roach have been married twice, once in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom permitted gay marriages, and again in 2008 when gay marriage was permitted briefly after an earlier Supreme Court ruling. That was stopped by Proposition 8, a 2008 voter-approved initiative that banned same-sex marriages.
Cook said the Supreme Court decision, which blocked an appeal of Proposition 8, is only one step.
"I'm very aware that the ruling today only affects 12 states including California, so there's more work to do, but we're very happy as it pertains to our personal situation," Cook said.
The court also overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
"I'm looking forward to hearing details about the ruling, specifically how our domestic partner benefits would be taxed," Cook said.
He's also waiting to hear how the ruling will affect income tax returns. He said he and his partner have had to file separate income tax returns.
Sandra J. Wing said she was glad she and her partner Gracie Santos would "receive the 1,100 federal benefits that were denied us."
Wing also said she worried about immigration issues surrounding same-sex couples. Under the ruling, gay and lesbian couples would be able to get visas for their spouses.
"Immigration was a concern for us years ago," Wing said. "It is so delightful to know those in the future would not have the same concerns."
The ruling is also welcome news for couples who could not get married during the fight over Proposition 8.
Gov. Jerry Brown, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and lawyers for the two couples who challenged Proposition 8 all say they believe same-sex marriage will resume statewide in California in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.
Brown announced he has advised state officials that a federal trial court injunction requiring them to license and register gay and lesbian marriages will apply throughout the state.
In a letter released Wednesday morning, Brown directed the California Department of Public Health to instruct all county registrars and recorders to allow same-sex marriages as soon as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifts the stay that kept Proposition 8 in effect.
"The effect of today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling is that the 2010 federal district court's decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional is left intact and the law cannot be enforced," Brown said in a statement.
Harris said all 58 counties in California will be informed they have to follow the law and permit gay and lesbian marriages.
The fight isn't quite over. Proposition 8 sponsors have 25 days to ask the Supreme Court for a rehearing, plus several days for a federal appeals court to issue a mandate dismissing the appeal.
There could also be further litigation about the scope of the trial court ruling striking down Proposition 8.
Herrera and lawyers for the two couples who challenged Proposition 8 say the injunction issued by Walker requires California officials to license and register same-sex marriages statewide.
The sponsors of Proposition 8 have said in court filings, however, that they think U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker's ruling, which blocked Proposition 8 from taking effect, would apply only to the two individual couples who challenged it.
The couples, who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in San Francisco in 2009, are Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank.