Within an hour after a federal judge declared that gay people in California have the right to marry, Wendy Rae Hill gathered her partner, two children and mother and headed to the Sacramento County clerk's office.
Hill and Carrie Tedrick, who have been together for three years, hoped to officially tie the knot Wednesday.
They left disappointed. The clerk told them and other gay couples who wanted to take advantage of a window of opportunity to get married that no certificates would be issued for at least a day or two.
Despite the landmark decision that Proposition 8 wrongly deprives gays and lesbians of their constitutional rights, "we're sitting here in the clerk's office and we've been denied our right to get a marriage license," Hill said tearfully. As she spoke, heterosexual couples were welcomed by workers ready to help them fill out their paperwork to marry.
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It was an emotional day for Hill, Tedrick and others like them in the Sacramento area. Outside the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center in midtown, people cheered, hugged and wept after news outlets announced the ruling. They started planning weddings and parties. They grabbed their cell phones and called friends across the country.
"Woo hoo! We won!" said Diana Luiz, who hopes to marry her partner, Nicola Simmersbach, as soon as possible.
Wednesday evening, celebrants filled the McMartin Realty parking lot at 21st and K streets as a band played on a balloon-festooned stage.
Many in the crowd carried red, white and blue signs sporting the slogan, "I do support the freedom to marry" in English on one side and in Spanish on the other.
"Hallelujah!" was Steve Skiffington's reaction to the decision.
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