State lawmakers around the country who have been involved in the marriage-equality debate see Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 as an affirmation that marriage is a state-level issue.
Some state lawmakers have been part of several equality-related fights, including ending state bans on same-sex marriage and ending discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population. Lawmakers leading those battles believe that the court's decisions will increase advocacy and the potential for change.
"It is a great step forward for our country and helps reinforce equality and it helps unite Americans a little more," Wyoming state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) told The Huffington Post. "Thinking about it, a new direction will be state by state at this point. The LGBT population can serve in the military and marriage has federal benefits. You’ll see a huge push on a state-by-state basis to ensure same-sex marriage.”
Zwonitzer, who led the fight against a constitutional same-sex marriage ban in his state, said he can see Wyoming becoming one of the next battlegrounds to legalize marriage equality. While Wyoming does not have a constitutional ban, there is a statutory ban on same-sex marriage, although a loophole allows recognition of gay couples married in other states. Zwonitzer said that he could see a court case brewing to force Wyoming to legalize gay marriage.
Wyoming lawmakers voted down same-sex marriage and civil union bills this year. Zwonitzer said he does not see civil unions coming back after the Supreme Court's ruling, noting that after Wednesday it is "marriage or nothing."
“Legislatively same-sex marriage in Wyoming is four years out at best," he said. "Judicially, we could be there in two months, if you had a same-sex couple move and apply for recognition.”
In Michigan, state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) proposed legislation earlier this week to repeal the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and force a public referendum to legalize it. Zemke said he sees the Supreme Court's ruling as reinforcement as he steers his legislation through the process.
Montana state Rep. Bryce Bennett (D-Missoula), the first openly gay male legislator in his state, said the ruling will open the door to legislation to repeal Montana's constitutional same-sex marriage ban when lawmakers reconvene in 2015. While he does not see the ban being repealed immediately, he can see other equality legislation passing. This year, Montana lawmakers repealed the state's sodomy ban and extended domestic violence protections to same-sex couples.
"Montanans are more and more understanding that gay and lesbian folks are their families, neighbors and co-workers," Bennett told HuffPost.
North Dakota state Rep. Joshua Boschee (D-Fargo), also the first openly gay lawmaker in the state, said the state does not have a strong LGBT advocacy infrastructure right now to push for either legislation or a ballot referendum to repeal the state's same-sex marriage ban.
Boschee noted, however, that the ruling can open the door for the creation of such a group. "States like North Dakota can get forgotten on these issues and we can be a part of the solution," he said.
In Missouri, the Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation to end discrimination against the LGBT population, and the University of Missouri system allowed benefits for same-sex couples starting this year. Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) said that while the discrimination ban did not pass the state House, he believes Wednesday's ruling will give the issue momentum. Webber, the discrimination ban's author, said that he still sees marriage equality taking longer in his state, which has tea party Republican supermajorities in the Legislature. Missouri has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Webber called the ruling a win for Democrats nationally, saying that now Republicans will have to explain their views on a state level. “This was an absolute disaster for the Republican Party," Webber said. "They are going to be absolutely humiliated for the next 20 years. It will be an absolute nightmare for the Republican Party."
But Michigan's Zemke is painting the ruling as a victory for progressives and conservatives. “The people who are pro-equality, this is a victory for them," he said. "This is also a victory for people who are big believers in states' rights and civil liberties. There is a pretty wide audience that won today.”
BEFORE YOU GO
06/26/2013 7:32 PM EDT
Catholic Archbishop: DOMA, Prop 8 Rulings 'Hurt Us All'
Some Catholic leaders are asking parishioners to consider the judgment of a higher power, not the nation's highest court.
Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron issued a statement criticizing the Supreme Court's decision in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, saying that attempts to redefine marriage "hurt us all."
The well-being of our society, our nation, and our families is intimately linked to the institution of marriage. These decisions by the United States Supreme Court will make significantly more difficult our work of upholding the truth that marriage is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman. Such decisions, made by any civic authority, do not serve the common good.
Catholics and millions of our fellow citizens will continue to make the case, respectfully yet vigorously, that marriage cannot be redefined, and that attempts to do so hurt us all.
Read more here.
06/26/2013 5:58 PM EDT
Stonewall Inn Crowd Celebrates DOMA, Vows To Keep Fighting
The Huffington Post's Lila Shapiro reports:
NEW YORK -- On Wednesday, the Stonewall Inn opened earlier than usual. At 10 a.m., the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed the gay rights movement a landmark victory, the historic bar was dimly lit, strung with rainbow flags, and filled with revelers toasting each other and pledging their determination to keep fighting.
Read the whole post here.
06/26/2013 4:16 PM EDT
Washington National Cathedral Rings Bells Celebrating Gay Marriage Rulings
The Washington National Cathedral rang bells at noon today to celebrate the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense Of Marriage Act and Prop 8.
Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Cathedral, released a statement soon after the rulings were announced:
“We are ringing our bells at the Cathedral to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants," he said. "Our prayers for continued happiness are with them and with all couples who will be joined in matrimony in the years to come, whether at Washington National Cathedral or elsewhere."
Click here to hear the bells.
06/26/2013 4:12 PM EDT
Matthew Shepard's Mom Responds To DOMA Ruling
Matthew Shepard's mom, Judy, said she wished her son had lived to see Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA.
"I wish he'd been here to see it," she said. "This case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true."
Click here to read more.
06/26/2013 3:45 PM EDT
Marriage Equality Supporters Pictured Reacting To SCOTUS Rulings From Stonewall Inn
(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
06/26/2013 3:31 PM EDT
Celebrating From Stonewall Inn, Iconic Location Credited For The Start Of The LGBT Movement
(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
06/26/2013 3:20 PM EDT
Couple Kiss, Celebrate SCOTUS Decisions While Holding Their Soon-To-Be Adopted Children
(Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
06/26/2013 3:09 PM EDT
DOMA Decision Helps LGBT Couples On Immigration
HuffPost's Elise Foley reports:
Judy Rickard, who is 65, and Karin Bogliolo, who is 72, have been together for eight years, legal domestic partners for five and legally married for two. They're one of an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples who have been excluded from immigration benefits because of DOMA, which disallowed the federal government from recognizing their marriages. The ruling doesn't entirely fix the problem -- couples must be married rather than partners, and must travel to a state that allows same-sex marriage if they don't live in one -- but it's still a major victory for LGBT rights.
Read more about Rickard and Bogliolo and more couples helped by the DOMA decision here.
06/26/2013 3:07 PM EDT
Food Network Host Announces Engagement To Partner Of 20 Years
Ted Allen, host of the hit Food Network show "Chopped" and his partner of 20 years, interior designer Barry Rice, were "over the moon" when they read on Wednesday morning that the court had ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Their day had come. They were getting married. Allen quickly announced their engagement on Twitter and Facebook. He said that the notices garnered the most enthusiastic response of any he'd ever posted; his Facebook status received 417 comments in the first 40 minutes.
Fellow food competition host Tom Colicchio sent his enthusiastic congratulations to the couple via Twitter.
Allen said that he and Rice would soon begin preparing for their wedding, likely a quiet affair in New York, but for now they're content to revel in the good news.
"I don't think that by any means our movement is finished, that our work is done, but this was an enormous hurdle," he said. "DOMA has been Chopped, sir."
-- Joe Satran
06/26/2013 3:01 PM EDT
'Make Them Hear You'
The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington gathered outside the Supreme Court Tuesday, singing "Make Them Hear You" after the Supreme Court rulings. Watch a video of the performance below: