Many people in the crowd knew just how historically significant today's Supreme Court hearings are, and Seattle PrideFest director Orion was one of them. "I don’t know if I’m going to get another case like this in my lifetime where I can come and be an activist and be inside the courthouse," he said. "Anything could happen. Let’s just hope and pray, because there are couples in 14 states that don’t have the right to marry and some of them have been together for decades, and they don’t have the rights and protections of marriage and it’s not right."
Arro Verse, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, showed up at the rally to perform some music and "support what's going on today in the country." For the outcome of the rulings, she remains optimistic.
"The law of the land will be that it’s OK. Everyone’s going to be able to marry," she said.
"This is something both of us have been fighting for, and it’s just something I had to be here for," said D.C. native Juno as he rallied outside the Supreme Court. Although his boyfriend couldn't be with him in support, he was excited to be there to witness "potentially the day equality won. The day justice finally, after 50-plus years of fighting since Stonewall, prevailed."
This Oakland couple got married in their home state of California in 2008 and have been together for 15 years. "We pay our taxes, we’re Americans just like everybody else, and we deserve to be recognized by our nation, just like anybody else.”
Cohen and Baer, both Reform Jews, were supposed to be in a conference but decided to sneak away to the Supreme Court rally to be witness to a historic moment in civil righ's history.
"As a lesbian who came out 40 years ago or so, I never believed I’d see this day. I’m just absolutely amazed and thrilled and couldn’t be happier,” said Cohen.
"I am not a lesbian" said Baer, "but I am so proud to be here at this moment. I couldn’t miss it. I just think that it’s historic and so important for us as a society. That’s why I’m here, and to support my friend."
Todd and Jeff were plaintiffs in the landmark Florida case that brought marriage equality to the state, and although they are already happily married and have been together for over 12 years, they still wish to see a nationwide solution to the problem of discrimination against same-sex couples.
"If this hearing were taking place maybe five years ago, I’d be pretty nervous," said Todd. "I think not only has public opinion shifted, which is important, but we also see that the arguments for marriage equality have really been honed and refined because of the marriage movement, because of 36 states, and that experience has led the entire movement to this day. I really feel like the entire country is in that courtroom today, and we’re gonna have a national solution."
The Delmays, knowing the effects of being in the marriage equality spotlight, stressed that they also wanted to show support for the couples involved in the Supreme Court cases: "To feel the love and support of other people around you was so beneficial, and we just wanted to be here for the other plaintiff couples."
The two D.C.-area residents and friends, who are both married to other people, wanted to make sure the world knows that their marriages count. "You can see that the crowd here today, there’s a little bit of protest, but overall, you can tell where history is leaning, and we wanted to be on the right side of that history," Cutter said.
After the devastatingly bad law that was California's Proposition 8, Mary and Jay turned up to rally at the steps of the Supreme Court today to show their support in hopes that things like that would never happen again. The West Hollywood couple, who got married in the small window when same-sex marriage was legal in 2008, said they don't want anyone to feel like anything less than what they really are.
Petry, a resident of New York City, visited the Supreme Court to call attention to the plight of LGBT people and the need for equal rights, including marriage equality. "I feel that being here and attracting the media’s attention to the issue is a good way to create pressure for change, to get government to do something about it," Petry said.
Alle-Munoz, a George Washington University student, said he was at the court “because equal justice under law, which is written on the Supreme Court building, has clearly not been met for the centuries that America has been a nation."
Ebenhoch, who came all the way from Key West, Fla., has one message for Americans as they await the Supreme Court's ruling: “My Constitution says all people are created equal. All people are equal in justice under the law. All means all, not some.”
Rhodes, the social media personality who famously came out to his father in a YouTube video with his twin brother, showed up at the Supreme Court rally Tuesday morning "on behalf of all the young people" who are LGBT.
"I feel like there’s so many like older people that they’re always standing up for this," he said, "and I think it’s important for us because some day we’re gonna get married too and I want to travel anywhere in the United States and love whoever I want to love.”
Rhodes's friend Braun shared in those sentiments. He wants what everyone else in the crowd surely wants: a favorable ruling.
"I think that today is the day that that’s going to go down in history," he said. "It’s going to be the type of day that we look back and tell our grandkids about, so I wanted to be a part of this historic moment and be able to say that I was on the steps of the Supreme Court on a day where, hopefully, they heard a case that changed civil rights in American history forever."
Amongst the many faces in the crowd were students from Arlington, Va.'s Wakefield High School, showing support for marriage equality.
"A lot of us take AP Government, so we’re pretty well aware of what’s going on in society right now as far as politics. We know that this is probably the biggest case of our generation, and we just want to show all the support that we can," said student Farrow. "We’ve never done anything like this before. As close as I’ve lived to D.C. all my life, I’ve never been here, so close to the Supreme Court with so many people. It’s just an inspiring moment, and hopefully our nation is taking a step in the right direction."
People from the states in which the cases in today's Supreme Court hearings originated were also amongst the many faces of the rally crowds.
"I’m hoping the ruling will be favorable and that we’ll get an equal right to marry across the country," said Sharp, a D.C. resident who originally hails from Ortonville, Mich. “I’ve always wanted to be able to take part in the political process here in D.C., and I’m new and this is an issue that is really personally important to me, so I thought what better chance to come down and show the supreme law in our land that I care and that this is the right thing to do."
Plaintiffs in the landmark Florida marriage equality case, Jones and Huntsman, while still optimistic for today's hearings, know that this is only the beginning when it comes to full protections for LGBT people. "There are so many other issues that are going to follow this," said Jones. "You have the transgender rights that need to be addressed, and other discriminations, that this will just kick-start it once this ruling comes up in our favor.”
Most young kids aren't able to make it out to huge historic events like today's Supreme Court hearings on same-sex marriage, which is why D.C. native Wittes found it so imperative to show up and show his support. "For as many people as are here, there are probably a hundred people who wish they could be here but can’t be because they have work, or because they can’t get up the money to come here, or because they’re teenagers and their families will prevent them from doing it," said Wittes. "I can come here. I live in the city, I have parents who allow me to come here, and so if I can, I should do it."
One can only imagine how many opinions were swirling around the Supreme Court today, and Arlington, Va.'s Whitehead let it be known exactly what she thinks of the lawmakers who pass antigay laws in the first place: "It’s easy to deny people rights when you don’t see a face or a name or have any context as to who you are denying rights to."
"I think that people feel overwhelmed and they can’t make a difference as one person, but one person can make a difference," said Gagnier, who stressed the importance of sticking up for whatever you believe in at the Supreme Court rally. "Even if it’s only for yourself that you know you took a stand for whatever side of the fence that you have a conviction on, I think it’s important that people are making an effort and taking a stand, period.”
Not everyone at the court is a marriage equality supporter. Grisham, a native of Amarillo, Texas, was at today's rally to "profess Jesus Christ to people that need it" and "to stand for righteousness."
"This is the Roe v. Wade decision of our lifetime that will change the course of the history of this nation," Grisham said. "If this nation continues to lose its moral compass and its moral way, then we’re going to lose the nation.”
For some marriage equality activists, being at the Supreme Court for today's hearing meant a return visit. Klos, one of the founding members of Equality Colorado and an LGBT activist for over 25 years, was at 2013's hearings in addition to this year's and was fortunate enought to witness arguments in both firsthand .
"In 2013, I was able to spend the night and receive a ticket to hear the proceedings then, and wanted to take a day off from work to make sure I was part of history again. I was very tickled that I was able to get in again," she said. "I was able to hear the last couple of sentences of the closing arguments, and then the dismissal of the court. I’m extremely excited about that."
RAFFY ERMAC contributed to this report.