Last month, for example, Iowa's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, leading one conservative opponent to tell the Associated Press, "I would say the mood is one of mourning right now."
The mood changed on Tuesday.
The executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which supports Proposition 8, said in a statement, "The 7 million Californians who worked hard to protect marriage as the union of husband and wife are breathing easier today."
For opponents of the 2008 ballot initiative, a new strategy is sought.
"People are confused about what to do with their anger," said Georgia Tech sophomore Keefer Dunn, 19. "We know we can't count on the politicians."
Many attending the rally voiced their displeasure with the Obama administration, which they said has yet to demonstrate any leadership on behalf of gay equality.
"I feel like we're being ignored," Rob Calhoun said. "He [Obama] has been more or less silent when it comes to gay issues."
Emma Crandall of Little Five Points said she hopes disappointment over the California court's decision will galvanize supporters of gay marriage.
"We need to be more vocal," said Crandall, attending with her partner, Diana Cage.
They hope to get married, but on their terms, and on their turf.
"I can't haul my entire family to Connecticut," said Cage, referring to one of the few states that allow same-sex marriages.
She's confident a generational shift in favor of same-sex unions will settle what remains a huge cultural divide.
"We've just got to remain patient and take each victory as it comes," said Cage, an author and talk-show host.