WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com/AP) — Residents and public officials in Los Angeles and across the Southland Friday in were celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.
Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in California and 35 other states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the city's first openly gay mayor, was at Civic Plaza to raise a Rainbow Pride Flag in response to the 5-4 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
In hailing the Supreme Court ruling, he cited a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
"Love won, freedom won and equality won," Garcia said. "Millions of Americans, including myself and my longtime partner, will finally be treated equally under the law."
Gay rights supporters in the LGBT community held a "Decision Day" rally at West Hollywood Park to cheer the decision, which was the outcome of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.
Lorri Jean of the Los Angeles LGBT Center spoke at the 6 p.m. rally, along with West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lambda Legal Director of Legal Affairs Jon Davidson, Latino Equality Alliance Co-Founder and Advisory Board chair Ari Gutierrez Arambula and Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.
"No union is more profound than marriage," Kennedy wrote, joined by the court's four more liberal justices.
The stories of the people asking for the right to marry "reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses' memory, joined by its bond," Kennedy said.
In a speech made in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama described the ruling as "justice that arrives like a thunderbolt".
Elected officials across the Southland hailed today's ruling.
"I'm proud that Los Angeles has long championed marriage equality," Mayor Garcetti said. "This is not only a victory for freedom, inclusion and love but for the union of a nation founded on the principle that all Americans deserve to be treated equally."
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said that with today's ruling, "love and dignity won."
"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage is one of the strongest affirmations ever made to enshrine a central tenet of this nation: all people are created equal," he said. "The struggle to truly realize justice and equality for all continues, but today represents a major step forward for our nation and the world in protecting the dignity of all humans
regardless of where they come from or who they love."
Gay marriage opponents on the other side of the political aisle remained vocal despite the Court's ruling.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum condemned the decision by what he calls "five unelected justices" who make up the ruling's 5-4 majority.
Santorum, a social conservative, said the court has redefined "the foundational unit that binds together our society, without public debate or input."
Professor John Eastman, a constitutional expert at Chapman University in Orange County, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he agrees with that viewpoint.
"Chief Justice Roberts points out that this institution of marriage is understood as tied to the unique biological complementarity of men and women," said Eastman. "It's been in every society, he said, from the Kalari bushmen to the Han Chinese to the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.
"Just who do we think we are?" Eastman added.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted that the ruling is "irrational" and "threaten religious liberty" and Congress must act.
An estimated 70,000 same-sex couples living in the 13 states that do not allow gay marriage are expected to marry in the next three years, according to Williams Institute researchers.
In Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee - the states specifically at issue in the cases before the Supreme Court - 19 percent of the 56,000 same-sex couples are raising more than 18,000 children under 18 years old, according to the latest data.
On Thursday night in Long Beach and in West Hollywood, two areas with large gay populations, none of the these statistics were forefront on anyone's minds.
CBS2's Peter Daut talked to revelers in West Hollywood who celebrated the landmark decision.
Daut reported West Hollywood was filled to capacity with people of all ages and backgrounds. Many were holding signs, wearing buttons and waving rainbow flags.
Lorri Jean of the LGBT Center, got a huge round of applause and cheers when she said, "Today was a victory for love."
Singer Melissa Manchester said, "For me I'm interested in children. and for children being raised in gay families who from now on will just simply be called, oh i don't know, families."
Many in the crowd said this was a day they never really expected to see happen.
"Thank you so much Supreme Court, and all the people who fought to make this happen," said Rachel Rose Luckey, a gay rights supporter.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
for more features.