Local Reaction to Gay Marriage Decisions

A historic day for gay rights as the Supreme Court decides same-sex married couples will have the same benefits available to heterosexual couples in states that recognize gay marriage

In the final session before breaking for Summer, the Supreme Court handed down two historic rulings today for gay rights.

"We are thrilled that we are one of the states that had marriage equality in place before DOMA was overturned and we are very proud that the Supreme Court actually cited our Delaware marriage law in the decision," said Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware.

The Supreme Court's first decision lifted part of a federal law, known as DOMA,  that denied married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.

In the second ruling, the justices decided not to overrule a trial court's previous decision that a ban on gay marriage in California was unconstitutional. That means same-sex marriages will be able to resume in the state.

In Delaware, gay marriage will become legal next week. "What the overturn of DOMA means is that when couples in Delaware begin to get married on July 1, their marriages will be treated as fully equal by a federal government," said Goodman.

Because of today's ruling, there are more than 1,100 benefits and protections of federal law that will now be available for same sex couples.

"I think most people actually take for granted all the legal issues that go along with a marriage. Until you don't have it, you don't realize what you are missing out on," said Joe Parisi, 29, of Philadelphia, who is currently planning an October 2014 wedding.

Besides taxes, social security and pension benefits, same-sex couples will have the same rights when it comes to veterans death benefits and immigration.

"None of us think twice that a married couple, that one should be able to sponsor the other for citizenship, but that has not been true for same sex couples," said Goodman.

While this ruling means something different for Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, same-sex couples view today's decisions as a major step in the right direction.

"This was a thrilling victory for me and my partner," said Parisi. "In a perfect world, I would like to see more states see this as a tipping point and start to legalize gay marriage, like in Pennsylvania, or at least recognize legal marriages in other states."

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have already adopted same-sex marriage.

"While this is a day of celebration for legally married same-sex couples, 37 states, including Pennsylvania, still treat gay and lesbian citizens and their children as unequal and second-class.  But work to win the freedom to marry here in the commonwealth will continue," said Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania.

While activists work to break down barriers in states that don't allow same-sex marriage, they face opponents, like the Delaware Family Policy Council, who released this statement after today's ruling.

"Today 38 states and 94% of countries worldwide affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman, just as diverse cultures and faiths have throughout history. The Supreme Court’s decision doesn't change the fact that society needs children, and children still need a mother and a father."

President Barack Obama praised today's 5-4 rulings, saying the Supreme Court righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it.

"We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," said Obama.

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