"The more you talk to people, the more they listen, the more they realize this is right, and this is inevitable," said Theodore Olson, former President George W. Bush's solicitor general and one of two lead attorneys who fought the Proposition 8 case on behalf of gay-rights advocates.
In West Hollywood, the furrows on 85-year-old Ivy Bottini's face deepened as she strained to remember the first time she heard two women talk about the possibility of getting married. It was, she said, roughly 30 years ago. "It was like: Oh, God -- really?"
"I am very honored to have lived this long, to see this for people who want to get married," said Bottini, a women's rights advocate for half a century, reaching toward her partner, Dottie Wine. "For many people, it says: 'I am a human being. I am a good person and I love this person. And we deserve to be together.' "
California, Bottini said, may have been ahead of its time -- and its gay community may have paid the price. In 2004, even some gay rights advocates denounced the decision by Newsom to begin issuing marriage licenses, calling it a stunt and a distraction from more deliberate legal efforts.
"California has always been a lightning rod," Bottini said. "We start things long before it catches fire in other people's minds and hearts. And we get a lot of flak for that. We've already won. We just don't know it yet."
Times staff writer Hailey Branson-Potts contributed to this report.