California's Supreme Court will announce a ruling soon on same-sex marriage. The court made it legal a year ago for same-sex couples to wed in the state, but voters soon put a stop to that.
Last May, when California's high court announced that it would legally recognize same-sex unions, weddings began virtually the minute the 30-day waiting period was over. In all, about 18,000 couples tied the knot.
In response, religious and political conservatives amassed signatures in record time for a November ballot measure that would overturn the judges' decision. Last fall, that initiative — known as Proposition 8 — became law.
"It was a really difficult, emotional time," says Scott Minkow. On election night, he was excited that Barack Obama won the presidency. But at the same time, he was crushed that Proposition 8 had passed. Minkow and his partner, Bill Deliman, had a July 4 wedding, worrying that California voters might pass the measure in the fall.
The state Supreme Court now has until June 3 to decide whether Proposition 8 stands, and whether marriages that occurred during the five-month legal window will be valid.
Lisa Edwards, a reform rabbi in Los Angeles, presided over almost four dozen same-sex marriages when they were legally recognized.
"Obviously, there were so many weddings in that time period," Edwards says. "People were worried that Prop 8 would pass, and that this would be our only opportunity."
Edwards and her partner, Tracy Moore, were among those who got married before the measure passed.
"I don't look forward to being in a specialized category of this little island of 18,000 whose marriages may be allowed to stand," Edward says. "It's a difficult place to put us in with regard to our friends and peers."
Moore says Americans' acceptance of same-sex marriage is only a matter of time.
"We never thought this was going to happen as soon as it's happened in America," she says. "And today, having five states be places where we could be married is a sea change."
The next step, gay activists say, is not having to ask anyone — other than their intended — for permission to marry.
That was a point made last fall in a marriage equality video called Permission. In it, a young man crosses California asking stranger after stranger if he may marry his beloved, Megan.
The video's tag line: How would you feel if you had to ask 260 million people for the right to marry?