Locals Celebrate Same Sex Marriage Rulings
Photo: Video by kmir6.com
CREATED Jun. 26, 2013
On Wednesday morning, the US Supreme Court handed down landmark rulings on two eagerly awaited same sex marriage cases.
California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The justices said that DOMA- the Defense of Marriage Act- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional because it denied federal benefits to legally married same sex couples.
The ballot measure Proposition 8 was passed by voters back in 2008, it outlawed same sex marriage in California.
It was overturned in court, and the legal appeals made it all the up to the nation's highest court.
It refused to hear the case, ruling the backers didn't have the legal standing to appeal the lower court's decision finding Prop 8 unconstitutional.
Here in the valley, gay couples and their supporters are celebrating the rulings.
They gathered for a rally Wednesday night in downtown Palm Spring at the Forever Marilyn statue.
Tuesday night they had no idea what the ruling would be, but now the rally is a celebration.
We spoke with a Palm Springs couple who've been waiting a long time for this day.
"For us, we just screamed and hugged each other and started crying," said Palm Springs couple, Henry Stern and Steve Black.
Henry and Steve have shared their lives together for 44 years, their anniversary was just a couple weeks ago.
"You go through everything that life throws at you both good and bad and you survive it together, and you just sort of become two halves of one whole," said Henry.
"He's my best friend, as well as my love. And also we built it on respect, and our work was built on respect," said Steve.
Steve and Henry have been in love since 1969 working together, living together, but unable to marry.
They anxiously waited for the ruling..
"There's still always that feeling that it's never going to happen, it's never going to happen," said Henry.
"Even last night we were not allowing ourselves, we busied ourselves with other things," said Steve.
George Zander with Equality California has been working for gay rights since the 1970s.
This is a day he's long waited for as well.
"My initial reaction was tears because the joy the joy that this has actually occurred was reality, I mean we thought this would happen, but we didn't really know, so I think there's an incredible amount of excitement, and especially all over California," said George.
For the first time ever, gay couples can now walk down the aisle at St. Margaret's Church in Palm Desert.
Already two couples have asked to be married there.
"We've been blessing same sex unions for some time now, we have loads of people in our congregation, gay and straight that we see holiness in their relationships and we want to acknowledge that and hold them up and support them in their life in Christ," said Reverend Lane Hensley, the rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.
Henry and Steve can't wait to get married after 44 loving years together.
"Well as soon as we can get a license, we'll be there, hopefully first in line again like we were last time, and then we'll get married. So it's strange to hear myself say that, but that is the next step."