WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Screenwriter and gay activist Dustin Lance Black began his Proposition 8 victory speech by acknowledging that today's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community stands on the shoulders of those who had come before -- in particular, those of slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in San Francisco.

"Harvey Bernard Milk, our dear hero, one of our father figures," began Black. "He said, 'We can no longer be satisfied with crumbs.' It is time for this community to stop asking for crumbs and demand the real thing, 'cause they may find that they could actually get it, and we have."

Black spoke on stage at a rally Wednesday evening in West Hollywood, the center of gay life in the Los Angeles area. The event drew hundreds of people to celebrate the Supreme Court's dismissal of Prop 8 and the overturning of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And, like Black, some couldn't help but think back to bittersweet memories of loved ones who didn't live to see legal same-sex marriage in California.

Longtime couple John Borsum, 58, and Mark Ehrenstein, 53, spoke to The Huffington Post about Ehrenstein's great-grand aunt and her partner of 60 years, who lived in Missouri during a time that gay relationships were illegal and dangerous.

"They lived as sisters and moved around a lot," said Ehrenstein. "I think they're both looking down and celebrating with us. I really do."

Borsum and Ehrenstein, who have been together for 31 years, married in 2008 during the brief period in which same-sex marriage was legal in California. They can still remember the time, back in 1983, that a Las Vegas hotel turned them away when they requested one king-sized bed in their hotel room. It was experiences like those, in addition to California voters' approval of Prop 8 in 2008, that made them believe they would never see marriage equality in their lifetime.

Now, said Borsum, "we want to see it across the country."

Los Angeles resident Brad Bigelow, 58, had a more immediate memory. This week, Bigelow will mark one year since his longtime partner died. He fought back tears talking about the loss.

"My partner of 32 years died a year ago this Friday," Bigelow said. "This was our dream and he never got to see it."

Bigelow was at the rally with Bert Champagne, a friend who also lost his partner eight years ago. For Champagne, the day was an opportunity to celebrate that the next generation of LGBT people and their supporters will no longer be second-class citizens in the eyes of the federal government.

Back when Prop 8 passed, Champagne said, he took to the streets with his 16-year-old niece in protest of the ban on same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, five years after that protest, she texted: "Uncle Bert, this is what it was all about."

Black was joined on stage by West Hollywood council members, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the anti-Prop 8 legal team Ted Olson and David Boies and the plaintiffs Sandy Stier, Kris Perry, Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami.

Couples, families and friends at the West Hollywood rally share their thoughts on marriage equality in the slideshow below.

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  • Bert Champagne and Brad Bigelow

    "I'm no longer a second-class citizen," said Brad Bigelow, 58 (right). He attended the West Hollywood rally with his friend of 15 years, Bert Champagne.

  • Sandy Holm and Vida Smittant

    Sandy Holm (left), 37, and Vida Smittant, 34, got engaged two years ago. Holm told HuffPost they planned their wedding for June of 2014 even before the Supreme Court ruled on Prop 8. "That's how much faith we had in the system," she said.

  • John Borsum and Mark Ehrenstein

    John Borsum (left), 58, and Mark Ehrenstein, 53, pose for a picture with their dog, Papa Bears. The couple have been married since 2008, during the brief window in which same-sex marriage was legal in California. "This is something we thought we'd never see in our lifetime," said Borsum to HuffPost.

  • Joy McMaster, Julie McMaster & Lola McMaster

    Joy McMaster (left), 26, and her partner, 28-year-old Julie McMaster, have been in a domestic partnership since 2011. They have a 14-month old daughter together named Lola. "It'll be nice to know our daughter will grow up knowing her parents are married, just like her friends' [parents]," said Joy McMaster to HuffPost.

  • Laura Wendel & Claudia Pizarro

    Laura Wendel (left), 41, and Claudia Pizarro, 36, have been together for six years. After California's 2008 "summer of love" in which the right to have a same-sex marriage was given and then taken away, the couple are not wasting any time getting a license. "We're going to get the license as soon as possible," said Wendel to HuffPost. "Just in case." Back in 2008, the couple had been planning their wedding but the event was put on hold after Proposition 8 passed.

  • Luis Escamilla, Kacee Wheeler & Ashley Gomez

    "This means freedom. It's a giant weight being lifted off everyone's shoulders," said Kacee Wheeler (middle). She attended the West Hollywood rally with her friends Luis Escamilla and Ashley Gomez. The trio, all 23 years old, have been best friends since they attended El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera.

  • Marc Markley

    "I don't even have a boyfriend and I'm not in the market to get married. But I'm happy to be able to," said Marc Markley, 43. "I've been marching since Prop 8 passed," he continued. "I've never marched for anything but I couldn't stop marching for this."

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ruled that supporters of California's ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8, could not defend it before the Supreme Court. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Kevin Lee Light, known as West Hollywood Jesus, holds a sign as he celebrates the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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    Supporters of same-sex marriage cheer at a rally celebrating today's Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    American and Rainbow flags are seen at a rally celebrating the Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Same-sex marriage supporter Rick Watts holds a sign listing his 'Gay Agenda' during a rally celebrating today's Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Same-sex marriage supporters Yale Scott (L), David Schulenberg (C) and Mark Martinez (R) show off their temporary tattoos reading 'NoH8' during a rally celebrating today's Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Supporters of same-sex marriage listen to speakers at a rally celebrating today's Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Jeff Olde (L) and his partner of 16 years Alan Uphold (C) attend a rally celebrating today's Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Deidre Weaver (L) and her partner Nancy Grass celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • Californians React To Supreme Court Rulings On Prop 8 And DOMA

    Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate at a rally following the Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Kevin Lee Light, known as West Hollywood Jesus, stands in between cardboard cutouts of two men hoding hands as he celebrates the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • Californians React To Supreme Court Rulings On Prop 8 And DOMA

    Same-sex marriage supporters attend a rally celebrating the Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, June 26 2013, in West Hollywood California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Californians React To Supreme Court Rulings On Prop 8 And DOMA

    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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    WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 26: Kevin Lee Light, known as West Hollywood Jesus, (L) poses with Perez Hilton and his son Perez Jr. as they celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling during a community rally on June 26, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)