Gays and their supporters in Lodi and Galt were glad to learn that a 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals panel ruled in favor of gay marriage in California on Tuesday, though some believe it's just another step toward having the issue decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It's a great step forward to what will hopefully be the right to marry," said Nicholas Hadden, executive director of the San Joaquin Pride Center in Stockton. "While I'm excited and happy, my excitement is tempered in that they put a stay on getting married. It looks like it's going to the Supreme Court, so we'll see what happens."
Gay couples will not be allowed to get married in California until the deadline for opponents to appeal the court decision, which is two weeks from now. If the decision is appealed, gay marriage wouldn't be legal in California until a final court ruling is issued.
In Galt, Mike Pocoroba, 29, and his domestic partner, Juan Garcia, 28, are looking forward to the day they can get married. Pocoroba said he hasn't seen any issues in Galt about a gay couple living in the community.
"I'm sure our neighbors know," Pocoroba said. "We just bought a house together."
At least one Lodi pastor said he objects to a liberal court throwing out a legal vote of the people.
California voters approved a measure in 2008 stating that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman.
"What has happened is that a very liberal court district in San Francisco has decided that a minority of people that feels that their feelings weren't honored in the vote are being discriminated against," said David Rails, pastor of Lodi Community Church.
Rails acknowledges that gay marriage is a delicate issue.
"We don't want to offend anyone, because God loves everyone, and that's my feeling, too," Rails said. "God loves the sinner, but He doesn't love the sin. I love the drug addict, but I don't have to love their lifestyle.
"(Homosexuality) is not what God called us to do," Rails said. "But it doesn't mean I will devalue them or treat them any different."
Claire Lima, who considers herself one of the more conservative people attending St. John's Episcopal Church, doesn't see any resolution to the issue in the near future.
"I have a conservative bent, so my gut feeling is that marriage should be between a man and a woman," Lima said.
While many pastors and churchgoers maintain that God considers homosexuality to be a sin, Lima isn't so sure.
"I can't say I'm a strict interpreter of the Bible," Lima said. "Human man wrote the Bible and put their spin on it.
"My take on it is we can't get into the mind of God, and God is the only one who can judge," Lima said. "We have to hope we are right and find out when we get to the other side."
Meanwhile, Lima said that gays in a committed relationship should have legal rights such as visitation in the hospital when their partner is ill.
At Tokay High School, the Gay-Straight Alliance plans to make itself better known in the Lodi community, said alliance Vice President Hanan Rashid. Plans haven't been finalized, but alliance members have discussed the possibility of going to Downtown Lodi and other businesses in the community to foster awareness.
"That's one more step for our community to be aware of us and accept (gays) for who they are," said Rashid, a Tokay High senior who is straight but has several gay friends. "We're going to speak out."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.