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Gay Rights Supporters Erupt in Cheers Over Ruling
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court says legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.
"Extremey happy to know that I'm finally being recognized," said John Gantt of Dayton. He and Scott Didier have been together for 20 years.
"And when New York legalized same sex marriage a couple years ago we went to NY State and were married; it'll be 2 years this coming July.
But now they live in Ohio. One of the many states that doesn't recognize gay marriage and still doesn't have to. But now couples in Ohio and federal employees can now access federal benefits, but when it comes to non-federal benefits, it gets a little dicey.
"Would Ohio be required to respect the marriage of a person in California in respect to their benefits? I think the answer is yes," said attorney John Rion.
He says the Supreme Court deciding to give federal benefits to gay couples set a standard for every state or every organization who says they only give benefits to a marriage between a man and a woman.
There are more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits of marriage from Social Security survivor benefits to federal tax benefits to federal employee health and retirement benefits. For the non-federal benefits like hospital visits, Rion says, it's only a matter of time.
"I just don't think that based on this decision that any state or any hospital or any jail can discriminate," Rion said. "If I was a house counsel for a hospital I will tell the admissions you to proclaim all married people equal to avoid a lawsuit.
But as for John & Scott, Wednesday was just a start for their benefit equality.
"We were both extremely happy," said Gantt. "It's a very emotional day for LGBT people."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chanting "DOMA is Dead," supporters of same-sex marriage burst into cheers Wednesday at news of the Supreme Court's decision invalidating part of a law denying gay marriage partners the same federal benefits heterosexual couples enjoy.
Sarah Prager, 26, cried when she heard the news standing outside the court. Prager married her wife in Massachusetts in 2011 and now lives in Maryland.
"I'm in shock. I didn't expect DOMA to be struck down," she said through tears and shaking. Prager was referring to the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, which was aimed at preserving the legal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
A large crowd had thronged to the high court's plaza earlier to await not only the decision on DOMA, but also a ruling on whether a constitutional amendment in California prohibiting gay marriage could stand the test of challenge.
Most of the crowd that spilled across the sidewalk in front of the court were gay marriage supporters. One person held a rainbow flag and another wore a rainbow shawl, and a number of people carried signs with messages including "2 moms make a right" and "`I Do' Support Marriage Equality." Others wore T-shirts including "Legalize gay" and "It's time for marriage equality." At several points the crowd began a call and response: "What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now."
Larry Cirignano, 57, was in the minority with a sign supporting marriage only between a man and a woman. He said he drove four hours from Far Hills, N.J., because he believed all views should be represented. He said he hopes the court follows the lead of 38 states that have defined marriage as between one man and one woman
George Washington University student Philip Anderson, 20, came to the court with a closet door that towered above his head. He had painted it with a message opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and which the court is considering. His door read: "This used to oppress me. Repeal DOMA; Now. No more shut doors."
Thirty-four-year-old Ian Holloway of Los Angeles got to the court around 7 a.m. to try to get a seat inside the courtroom. Holloway said he and his partner had planned to get married in March but when the justices decided to hear the case involving California's ban on gay marriage they pushed back their date.
He said, "We have rings ready. We're ready to go as soon as the decision comes down." Holloway said he was optimistic the justices would strike down Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.
PHOTO: Vin Testa of Washington waves a rainbow flag in support of gay rights outside the Supreme Court in Washington, June 25, 2013, as key decisions are expected to be announced. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
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