Advocates of same-sex marriage marked today's U.S. Supreme Court hearings on California's Proposition 8 with an evening rally in front of the federal courthouse in Sacramento.
Participants began gathering about 4 p.m. for the "United for Marriage -- Light the Way to Justice" rally, scheduled to continue until 9 p.m. A second rally is planned for the same hours Wednesday, after the Supreme Court hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Troy Carpenter, 18, of Marysville sat on the courthouse steps with a handmade sign sporting a rainbow background and the question, "If my dad can be married 3 times, why can't we do it once?"
A college student, Carpenter said, "I want them to overrule Proposition 8, definitely."
He said he learned about the rallies nationwide from a friend in Indiana and found out about the Sacramento event via social media.
As the late afternoon crowd of about 100 people waved signs, passing motorists honked in support.
For Shelly Bailes, 72, and Ellen Pontac, 71, of Davis, this was second day of rallies. They participated in a march Monday in San Francisco.
Bailes and Pontac have been together 39 years and were the first same-sex couple to marry in Yolo County -- at 5:01 p.m. June 16, 2008 -- during the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in California.
They carried a sign that read, "Life feels different when you're married."
"Everyone knows what marriage means," Pontac said. It's about family.
Before they were married, she recalled, she referred to Shelly's brother's son as "Shelly's brother's son." Now, Pontac said, "he's my nephew."
"It changes the way the world perceives you," Pontac said of marriage, "and the way you feel about yourself."
John Freeman , 52, of West Sacramento said he wasn't necessarily interested in marriage for himself. "For me," he said, "it's more about civil rights."
Freeman said he thinks the Supreme Court will decide to allow same-sex marriage in California, but it may not extend the right to other states.
Christi Galela, 28, of Sacramento said she had followed some of today's court arguments. "It looks like it's too close to call," she said. "I hope the justices will lean on what they know is constitutionally correct, which is to give everyone their rights under the law."
Melanie Vega, 25, of Oakland stood on the curb waving a sign that read, "I am a straight ally and support marriage equality."
Vega said she has family members who are gay. "I can't imagine them not being able to feel the same love as people that are straight," she said.
Bailes and Pontac said they were gratified by the turnout of young people -- gay and straight -- at the rally.
"No matter what their sexual orientation," Pontac said, "they understand what equality means and that sometimes you have to fight for it."
Shelly said she thinks the Supreme Court will overturn Proposition 8. She further predicts that the Defense of Marriage Act will be overturned, on a 6-3 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy voting with the the court's more liberal members.