Prop. 8 opponents rejoice

Orange County opponents of Proposition 8 planned to celebrate Wednesday evening while those who supported the voter-approved ban on gay marriage vowed to continue fighting.

A scheduled rally at Sasscer Park across from the federal courthouse in Santa Ana turned into a celebration after a federal judge threw out the divisive measure, which garnered wide voter support in Orange County.

Locals toasted the decision at the Tin Lizzy, a gay bar in Costa Mesa.

"This is the next step to our future," said patron Audie Contreras, an Anaheim Hills resident. "We got some people getting off work early and coming in talking about how excited they are."

The bar is in the process of making a special drink for the occasion, possibly named the Prop. 8, and plans to offer drink specials on Aug. 8.

Tom Thorkelson lives in Newport Beach and is the director of Interfaith Relations on the Orange County Council for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He said he wasn't surprised by the decision and has confidence that the high court will eventually side with California voters.

"It doesn't make any difference with this particular result," he said. "The decision of this court is really preliminary to what will be adjudicated by the Supreme Court."

The Mormon church, whose members helped fund Proposition 8, expressed disappointment regarding the ruling.

"Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society," the church said in a statement.

Newport Beach residents Tom Peterson and Jim Albright were the first same-sex couple to marry in Orange County. They tied the knot June 17, 2008, after more than 18 years together.

"I'm very pleased about the verdict," Peterson said. "It confirms to me that, in the end, justice falls on the side of equality."

Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, maintained that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

"The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good," George said in a statement.

But religious leaders, depending on their denomination, were not unaninimous in their support for the same-sex marriage ban.

"I am absolutely delighted and really feel wonderful about the ruling," said the Rev. Karen Stoyanoff of the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist church in Costa Mesa. "I already had one couple call, about half an hour ago, and ask to perform a wedding for them."

Sarah Halverson, the pastor of Fairview Community Church, similarly showed excitement about the news.

"I was in the meeting when I got a phone call that it was overturned," Halverson said. "We rejoiced when we heard."

— Reporter Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

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