DOMA struck down, Prop. 8 dies at Supreme Court

  • Bob Holloway, center, a curator at Golden Gate National Park, kisses his husband Tom Laughlin after learning that the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act at a gathering at Gary Saperstein's home in Sonoma, California on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Supporters of marriage equality in Sonoma County started celebrating early Wednesday and continued into the night in the wake of two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings restoring same-sex marriage to Californians and extending the rights of married gays and lesbians around the country.

"My heart won't stop pounding," Sonoma resident Tim Church said as he processed the news at a neighbor's home minutes after the momentous decisions were made public.

"It's a good day. It's a very good day," said his host, Gary Saperstein, who opened his home to more than a dozen friends who hovered over laptops to get immediate word from the court.

Santa Rosa attorney Naomi Metz, already slated to fly to Washington today for a meeting of the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force, made a last-minute decision to travel Tuesday night so she could be at the court when the long-awaited decisions emerged.

The earlier flight meant she celebrated the news with her wife long-distance, by phone, but the chance to witness "this moment in history" was too alluring, she said.

"When it came out, the place just filled with tears — tears and laughter and whoops of excitement," Metz said, still standing in front of the Supreme Court building. "It was amazing."

In a one-two punch, the nation's highest court struck down a key provision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex spouses.

The high court also paved the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. It left in place a 2010 district court decision that found Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on gay marriages, was unconstitutional.

Stu Harrison, co-chairman Wine Country Says No on 8 five years ago, on Wednesday declared it finally "dead."

"It's a momentous day," he said.

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