It was hard not find a smile in San Francisco’s Castro District Wednesday night as hundreds of gay rights supports gathered to celebrate Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Rainbows were everywhere from flags to balloons to feather boas as supporters gathered at Castro and Market streets for a rally organized by a coalition of advocacy groups including Marriage Equality USA, March4Equality and Unite Here Local 2.

Local performers were also staged at 19th and Castro streets.

Cleve Jones, founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, praised Wednesday’s “milestone in our long struggle to equality and social justice” however he noted work still needs to be done.

Jones also took the time to acknowledge Nelson Mandela’s efforts towards equality in South Africa. He said Mandela was in critical condition (according to reports, Mandela was “much better” Thursday) and encouraged the crowd to chant “Viva Nelson Mandela.”

People were waving mini red and blue flags with yellow equal signs as speakers continued to pump up the crowd.

Laura Snodgrass, 32, of Eureka, arrived earlier Wednesday from New York for a wedding and found out about the news through Twitter. She said she and her partner Julie Strubinger, 34, cried with others while waiting for their connecting flight in Newark, N.J.

Snodgrass and her partner were married five years ago and were glad to hear that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional.

People were dressed in all sorts of costumes from puffy dresses to wedding veils or in some cases wore no clothing at all.

“Overjoyed” was the word David Miner chose to describe his feelings towards Wednesday’s rulings. Miner, 53, is an Associate Priest and Project Coordinator at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in San Francisco, who was at the rally with his partner Matthew Chacko.

The couple has been together for 20 years and married five years ago at San Francisco City Hall.

People held multiple signs including ones that read “Today We Are More American” and “Marry Who You Love.”

Naan White, 56, of San Francisco was enjoying the rally with her partner Barnie Simpson and their kids, Rashaad and Rashidah Simpson-White.

When asked about his feelings towards Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings Rashaad simply gave two thumbs up.

Brother Junipero of the Society of St. Francis in San Francisco was supporting the LGBT community at the rally.

Junipero said he was in a prayer group with his fellow brothers Wednesday morning and they were all glancing their phones to check the latest news on the U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

“This is a great landmark opportunity for us to build bridges,” he said.

Lori Katz, 59, was wearing a “bride-to-be” headband at the rally. Her girlfriend, Bea Coll 55, proposed to her three weeks ago and the couple is planning their wedding for next summer.

Melinda Kendall, 55, had an “overwhelming feeling of safety” when she heard the news on the U.S. Supreme Court rulings this morning.

She is a teacher at West Portal Elementary School and remembers the threat of the Briggs Initiative, a state ballot proposition which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching at public schools.

Thursday’s rally allowed the LGBT community to come together and celebrate, Marriage Equality USA national media director Stuart Gaffney said.

With the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade coming up this weekend “the timing of these decisions couldn’t be better,” Gaffney said.

Photos: Violet Blue/SF Appeal Report: Jamey Padojino, Bay City News

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