June 26, 2015 at 11:35 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
‘I’m just finally proud to be an American’
United States Supreme Court, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Same-sex marriage supporters who gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday cheered and even wept as they learned the justices ruled gays and lesbians have the constitutional right to marry.

“I’m just so happy for all my friends and family who this affects,” Bridget Gaglio of D.C. told the Washington Blade as she wiped tears from her eyes. “This is a historic day in our country that we recognize that everyone is truly equal in all aspects. I’m just finally proud to be an American.”

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey told the Blade the first thing she did upon hearing the ruling was to “burst into tears” and kiss her wife who was standing next to her on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“There’s a lot of relief here and across the country,” she said. “There are going to be a lot of people going to bed tonight with some relief and feeling a little bit safer for their families and a little bit better that they are not second class citizens.”

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier — one of the two same-sex couples who successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 — told the Blade they feel relieved by Friday’s decision.

“Kids that are going to be born today will not grow up with this discrimination,” Stier told the Blade.

Emily Townley-Schall, daughter of Carol Schall and Mary Townley, one of the plaintiff couples in the case that challenged Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, thanked her parents as she applauded the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“After many years of fighting, marriage equality has finally been made the law of the land,” wrote Townley-Schall on her Facebook page. “It’s all because of the hard work of same-sex couples, like my parents, fighting for their equal rights.”

Other LGBT rights advocates across the country also applauded the decision.

“This is an historic day,” said Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden. “The court’s decision reflects decades of tireless work by advocates and the quiet courage of everyday gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans who have loved openly and proudly.”

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith in a statement said her organization is “thrilled and relieved” by the ruling.

“We’re also glad that marriage equality, which we worked so hard to achieve in Florida, is now extended to every state in the country,” she said. “Since same-sex couples began marrying in Florida, we have seen the beauty of love and commitment. We have seen the joy. We’ve seen how it brings families together. We’re happy that people in other states will get to experience this too.”

Opponents of marriage rights for same-sex couples were quick to criticize the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Though expected, today’s decision is completely illegitimate,” said National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown in a statement. “We reject it and so will the American people.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Carly Fiorina and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are among the Republican presidential candidates who quickly reaffirmed their opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

“I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” said former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a statement.

An opponent of marriage rights for same-sex couples who was weeping on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court told LGBT rights advocates that God “will bring a punishment for what we have done.”

“That’s what I fear for my country,” she said.

Linda Robinette of Whitney, Texas, who was standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court with her wife, Jennifer Martinez, acknowledged to the Blade that “some won’t like” the justices ruling.

“But we’re not asking them to like it,” added Robinette. “We just want our equal civil rights.”

Several of the LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade spoke outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday signaled that the movement will continue to work on employment discrimination, religious freedom proposals and other issues now that the justices have ruled same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry across the country.

“Any intelligent young child could read the Constitution and look at the 14th Amendment and see the words equal protection and understand that would apply to LGBT people,” gay U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) told the Blade while standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court before the justices released their ruling. “What’s not being decided here are workplace protections and public accommodations and housing, any number of ways in which LGBT people can be discriminated against once they get married and live their lives publicly.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans made a similar point in a statement she released after the U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling.

“We must recognize the intersections of anti-LGBT discrimination with racism, sexism and all forms of prejudice that impact our community and continue working to advance full lived equality,” she said. “Today we celebrate this historic victory for marriage equality, and pledge to continue the work to ensure that every Marylander is free to live their full lives in the Free State.”

Carey agreed.

“What we do know as a movement and as a country is that anytime we make progress we have to continue to move forward in other areas and defend that progress,” she told the Blade. “We’ll continue the work. There was a movement long before marriage and they’ll be a movement long afterwards.”

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

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