Meet Gaby Farias. Farias is a recent graduate of California State University, Stanislaus, a recipient of the prestigious Judge and Alverta Hughes Humanitarian Award for her work promoting equality and diversity on campus, and as of Wednesday is one of the 4 million homosexual Americans who can rightfully marry their respective partners in California.
The U.S. Supreme Court released a decision on Wednesday which effectively overturns the state's ban on same-sex marriages. The 5-4 decision on Hollingsworth v. Perry declares the statutes that restrict marriage to one man and one woman unconstitutional and upholds the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling overturning Proposition 8.
"It basically means that we are winning the battles," said Farias. "The war hasn't be won yet, but we are winning the battles needed for equal treatment."
"I was shocked but ecstatic that finally a leap towards equality was happening," said Anthony Harguindeguy, a resident of Stanislaus County. "I literally just was smiling the whole day because finally I could possibly have the option to marry that special someone."
On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted its stay on same-sex marriages, allowing gay couples to be married immediately.
"I am thrilled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay to allow same-sex couples to legally marry in California," said Attorney General Kamala Harris in a statement. "Gay and lesbian couples have waited so long for this day and for their fundamental right to marry. Finally, their loving relationships are as legitimate and legal as any other."
According to the Stanislaus County Clerk's office, only a handful of local couples had called inquiring about marriage licenses as of Friday morning.
Proponents of traditional marriage, however, vow to continue fighting the battle against same-sex marriage stating that Wednesday's decision was an unfair use of the judiciary system.
Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, stated that the "legal maneuverability" of the decision undermines the electorate decision made when Proposition 8 was passed back in 2008.
"While disappointed in the narrow 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Proposition 8 - which defines marriage as between one man and one woman - it must be pointed out that the Court ruled on a technicality and not on the merits of the initiative," said Dolejsi. "By doing so, the justices invite further questions in an already convoluted legal process."
The Supreme Court decision found that the sponsors of the voter-backed Prop. 8 lacked authority to represent the state after Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Harris refused to defend the measure in court.
Lawyers for the ban's backers still have 24 days to ask the Supreme Court to rehear their case.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court also delivered its opinion striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, with a 5-4 decision. The court found that the law preventing the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage legalized by states was unconstitutional.
Wednesday's decision was greeted with tears from many of the same-sex couples who attended the court ruling and heard Chief Justice John Roberts deem that DOMA was indeed in violation of the nation's 5th amendment.
DOMA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 prevented same-sex couples from accessing hundreds of federal tax, health, and retirement benefits that are available for heterosexual couples.
Unlike previous presidents, Barack Obama supported the striking down of DOMA, stating that it "treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people."