SAN FRANCISCO — The bitter rivals in California's gay marriage debate were in complete agreement Friday: The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to take up the state's gay marriage ban was a good thing.
Of course, each side is now hoping for a diametrically opposite ruling.
Still, both sides expressed relief that the long, legal battle may be nearing an end now that the high court has agreed to consider California's Proposition 8, which 52 percent of the electorate passed in 2008. Since then, two lower courts have struck down the ban as unconstitutional. The courts have put same-sex marriages on hold until the legal issues are resolved, which could occur next year depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules.
"Every one of the numerous legal steps we have taken for the past four years has been in anticipation of this moment," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, which supported the ban in court. "Arguing this case before the Supreme Court finally gives us a chance at a fair hearing, something that hasn't been afforded to the people since we began this fight."
On the other side of the divide, same-sex couples and their supporters similarly applauded the U.S. Supreme Court's action, even though a denial to take the case would have lifted the ban.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said this route is better because it could lead to a sweeping ruling for the entire country.
"The federal challenge to Prop. 8 represents one of the most significant civil rights cases to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court in decades," Herrera said.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said this was the "beginning of the end" of the eight-year legal fight over gay marriage. Newsom defied state law on Valentine's Day 2004 when, as mayor of San Francisco, he ordered City Hall to wed same-sex partners.
"By agreeing to hear the Proposition 8 case, the U.S. Supreme Court could end, once and for all, marriage inequity in California," Newsom said.