California Democrats were quick to weigh in Friday on the Supreme Court's announcement that it will rule for the first time on same-sex marriage by deciding the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the California voter initiative that limited marriage to one between a man and a woman.
Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said in a statement that the high court's decision to hear arguments next year "takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people."
"For justice to prevail, Proposition 8 must be invalidated so that gay and lesbian families are finally treated with equality and dignity," she said.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who kicked off the gay marriage debate eight years ago as mayor of San Francisco by allowing same-sex couples there to get marriage licenses, took to Twitter.
"Supreme Court here we come," he wrote. "Love will triumph over fear!"
If the justices had turned down the appeal from the defenders of Prop. 8, it would have allowed gay marriages to resume in California, but without setting a national precedent.
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), California's first openly gay speaker, said the high court's decision to take up Prop. 8 is "a reminder that the pathway to justice is long and difficult."
"I am very confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of our community ... and affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional," Perez said in a statement. "But until that outcome is secured, our community must continue to fight for justice on every front.”
[UPDATE, Dec. 7, 3:41 p.m.: State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said gay rights advocates had momentum on their side.
"The issue of full equality for everyone is fundamental to the American way of life," he said in a statement. "“In the courts and at the ballot box, there is ever increasing recognition that a person’s sexual orientation should have nothing to do with his or her civil rights, including the right to marry whomever they choose."]
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: A supporter of same-sex marriage holds a flag that depicts two wedding bands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., last month. Credit: Michael Reynolds/EPA