SAN FRANCISCO -- Reaction was cautiously optimistic on Friday from supporters of same-sex marriage to news the U.S. Supreme Court would review a challenge to California's Proposition 8 and another case involving the federal government's ban on benefits for same-sex couples.
"It's a bittersweet moment," said 35-year-old Renata Moirera, who lives in San Francisco with her partner Lori Bilella, 29. "But we are optimistic that by next year the Supreme Court will stand on the right side of history and declare once and for all that all loving families deserve to be granted the right to marriage. We are also optimistic as we see our family, friends and neighbors coming out and supporting our unions and realizing there families are similar to ours."
Moirera said she and Bilella plan to marry in New York in September, on their fifth-year anniversary.
"But at the same time we want to be able to get married in our home state," she said Friday.
In orders issued Friday afternoon, Supreme Court justices decided to review a federal appeals court's ruling earlier this year striking down Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
As a result, the court would rule on the case by the end of its term in June. In the meantime, same-sex marriage remains on hold in California. The court is expected to hear arguments in the case in mid to late March.
"I think it's optimistic," said Anthony Lymon, 44, of San Francisco,
Lymon holds the issue close to his heart, and speaks of a pair of close friends, together for the past 14 years, who have had to put their marriage on hold since the passage of Prop 8.
Roland Stringfellow, 44, and his partner Jerry Peterson, 56, of Oakland, are both clergy members who hoped to wed this week in California.
"My partner and I, who I call my husband because we had a religious ceremony in the state of Indiana in 2010 on his birthday, were so anticipating hearing the Supreme Court would not take the case this week," said Stringfellow, who co-pastors the First Congregation Church of Oakland, United Church of Christ on Harrison Street. "My birthday was yesterday and we were hoping to get married yesterday.
"We could easily go up to Washington state where it's legal, but because we've invested so much time and energy here we're going to wait," Stringfellow said. "Love and commitment is good news and something we need to support no matter what the gender of the person is."
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that it was "the beginning of the end for a California journey that started eight years ago when San Francisco issued same-sex marriage licenses." Newsom added, "By agreeing to hear the Proposition 8 case the U.S. Supreme Court could end, once and for all, marriage inequity in California."
Outside San Francisco City Hall on Friday, Josh Darilek, 18, said, "It's a good step, but with California being so forward thinking, I thought we'd be the first ones."
Robert Munzer, a San Francisco furniture representative, anxiously checked his phone every five minutes Friday morning until he learned about the Supreme Court decision.
Munzer married David Bahl in October 2008 during the brief window when such marriages were legal in California before voters passed Proposition 8.
Now, he said, "We have to pay our tax preparer guy double because he has to file a joint return for the state and two single returns for federal."
Like many people in the Castro district Friday morning, Munzer had a mixed reaction to the Supreme Court hearing the case. If it had decided not to take the case, that would have legalized gay marriage in California. But on the other hand, a ruling could have broader, nationwide impacts.
With every delay, public opinion shifts more in favor of gay marriage, Munzer noted.
"If they let Proposition 8 stand, that would be bad for their legacy," he said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."
Some expressed concern about how the Supreme Court will rule.
"I'm glad the issue is going to be forced, but I'm a little leery about the outcome," said Doug Will as he sat in front of a Castro district coffee shop.
The decision to hear the Prop. 8 case "restored some of my faith in our system," said San Francisco resident Gavin James, an HIV case manager. If gay marriage is legalized, it would be easier for partners to visit each other in hospitals, James added.
,Some in the Castro suspect that the court delayed a move on the issue until after election, said Dean Whitney, lives in the neighborhood and is a speech therapist.
"I'm hoping that more people will be able to marry and start adopting more children," Whitney said.
But Proposition 8's supporters were also optimistic that the court would rule in their favor.
"We are delighted that the nation's highest court will decide whether to uphold the will of more than seven million Californians who voted to preserve the unique definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman," ProtectMarriage.com general counsel Andy Pugno said.