June 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Supreme celebrations after court tosses DOMA, Prop 8
Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act, gay news, Washington Blade, gay news

Activists on Monday held signs and a flag in front of the Supreme Court in hopes of a decision on the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Marriage equality supporters who gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday erupted into cheers as they learned the justices had found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

“I’m thrilled,” D.C. resident Justyn Hintze, who is originally from Florida, told the Washington Blade outside the court. “I think that it’s about time and that sexual freedom and same-sex marriage is a human right.”

D.C. resident Amanda Klinger and her fiancée, Caroline Hunt, held a sign that read “our wedding just got 1138 times more equal” as they anticipated the Supreme Court ruling on cases that challenged the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA that defined marriage as between a man and a woman in federal law and California’s Proposition 8. Rev. Rob Apgar-Taylor of Grace United Church of Christ and Veritas United Church of Christ in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., who married his husband in Massachusetts in 2004, told the Blade before the justices issued their DOMA ruling that he hoped they would be “bold” in their ruling.

“God is about justice, compassion and love,” he said.

Larry Blanchard of Palm Springs, Calif., who married his husband in October 2008, recalled a person could lose their certification in the security complex in which he worked for simply knowing a gay person.

He told the Blade he feels “times have really changed in all those years.”

“This is wonderful,” Blanchard said. “People are finally treated equally.”

Charles Butler of GetEQUAL and former board chair of Equality Maryland, had been waiting outside the court since 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I’m just here to see history,” he said. “Even just as a spectator to be a part of it, it’s a really big time.”

Dani Dennenberg of Portland, Ore., held a sign that read, “two moms make a right” as she and two others waited to enter the Supreme Court. “We decided to come down and to be part of this historic moment. [We are] really hoping our country moves in the right direction.”

LGBT rights advocates around the country also applauded the DOMA decision.

“Since 2006, Virginia has had a constitutional amendment that prohibits the legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish noted. “While we continue working to lift the ban on marriage here at home, we can celebrate today’s decision from the Supreme Court, affirming that all loving and committed couples deserve equal respect and treatment.”

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who last month signed his state’s same-sex marriage law that takes effect on Monday, described the DOMA decision and ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8 based on standing as “a victory for civil rights and another landmark moment in our country’s never-ending quest to be a more perfect union.”

“The decisions affirm that we can only live up to the values of freedom and justice for all when everyone is treated equally under our laws. I’m proud that we have celebrated this principle in our state with the passage of marriage equality.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Supreme Court reaffirmed “equal justice under law.”

“Today, the Supreme Court bent the arc of history once again toward justice,” she said. “The court placed itself on the right side of history by discarding Section 3 of the defenseless Defense of Marriage Act and by allowing marriage equality for all families in California.”

Same-sex marriage opponents were quick to criticize the DOMA and Prop 8 rulings.

“In a miscarriage of justice the US Supreme Court has refused to consider the decision of a single federal court judge to overturn the perfectly legal action of over 7 million California voters who passed Proposition 8 defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown. “The Supreme Court’s holding that proponents of an initiative had no legal right to appeal ignores California law and rewards corrupt politicians for abandoning their duty to defend traditional marriage laws.”

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has lost its legitimacy as an arbiter of the Constitution and the rule of law,” Liberty Counsel Chair Mat Staver added. “Today is the death of the Court’s legacy, because the decision in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act case defies logic and is a pure invention of a handful of Justices.”

Even as same-sex marriage advocates continue to celebrate the Supreme Court’s landmark rulings on DOMA and Prop 8, GetEQUAL Co-Director Heather Cronk said in a statement she feels there is still work to be done to achieve what she described as full equality for LGBT Americans.

“Our work is far from over — not simply in our struggle for marriage equality in all 50 states, but also in employment, immigration, housing, credit, public accommodations, and so many other ways,” she said. “Today we celebrate, but we are getting right back to work.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • It never ceases to amaze me that the National Organization for Marriage and other opponents of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples — despite the Supreme Court’s decisions against DOMA and Prop. 8 — continue to cling to the false notion that voters can openly defy the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and deny to gay and lesbian Americans the rights and privileges guaranteed to — and enjoyed by — all other Americans under the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, which is precisely what the Constitution of the United States is.

    No one — not the president, not the members of Congress, not the justices of the Supreme Court, and certainly not the seven million Californians who voted in favor of Prop. 8 — are above the Constitution of the United States. That is a fact of law that opponents of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples are going to have to live with, whether they like it or not.

  • The Supreme Court ruling is indeed a milestone, but for some it would prove too late. Like my vivacious and gay Great Uncle Harry. A “confirmed bachelor”, my Uncle Harry was, next to a waiter passing the champagne, the most sought after man at a mid-century wedding. The single gals buzzed around him like bees to honey. The thing of it was, Harry’s come hither eyes weren’t directed to the bevy of beauties, they were more directed at the Best Man. Friends thought him picky, an odd man out in a world geared to the married set. Harry was born too early to witness a wedding cake topped by 2 grooms or a time when his come hither eyes would be able to gaze more openly to the possibilities that were denied him. For more visit http://envisioningtheamericandream.com/2012/06/25/the-gay-bachelor-and-the-bride/

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