Celebrations by gay rights activists lasted late into the night Wednesday. They were celebrating a federal judge's decision to declare California's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The other side says they'll appeal.
It's a major victory for supporters of same-sex marriage in a battle that could end up at the nation's highest court.
"We're just on our way,” said same-sex marriage supporter Shelly Bailes. “We're just one step closer to the equality that we absolutely deserve."
Wednesday, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 - California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage -- is unconstitutional. In his 136-page ruling, he struck down every argument for the ban saying, "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license."
The two couples behind the lawsuit were overjoyed.
"This decision says that we are Americans too, we too should be treated equally," said the plaintiff Kris Perry.
But same sex couples won't be able to marry immediately in California. Judge Walker put a temporary hold on his ruling until at least Friday after supporters of the ban filed an appeal.
Tara Mergener reports, “Many believe the case will eventually end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling [t]here could decide the issue of same sex-marriage across the country.”
California passed Proposition 8 with 52 percent of the vote back in 2008.
"It's pretty upsetting to me to see that one unelected judge is able to just trample on my rights as a voter," said Proposition 8 supporter Luke Otterstad.
Supporters argue the ban is necessary to protect what they call the traditional notion of marriage.
"Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children that come from the relationship," said Bill May of Catholics for Protect Marriage.
Both sides are now vowing to continue the fight no matter where it leads them or how long it takes.