Local reaction to Supreme Court decisions

Posted at: 06/26/2013 5:33 PM
Updated at: 06/26/2013 6:20 PM
By: Kumi Tucker

SCHENECTADY -- Sean Philpott and Daniel Jones of Schenectady are getting married in ten days.

"A friend of mine described it as the Supreme Court's wedding gift to us," said Philpott.

They, along with other same-sex couples who are married in states where same-sex marriage is legal, will now get the same federal tax, health, and pension benefits as any other couple.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 ruling, struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

In a separate decision, the court also ruled against supporters of Prop 8, the ban on same-sex marriage in California.

"I'm just stunned by how quickly things have turned around in the United States in terms of attitude towards same-sex marriage," said Philpott.

"I feel like we're living in a really important part of history right now," said Jones. "I'm very proud that this is happening in our country and very proud to be the first one in my family to get married to my partner."

"For many people, they've been waiting their entire lives for this moment," said Curran Streett, Executive Director of the Pride Center of the Capital Region. "We know a lot of couples at the Pride Center who have been together for decades and were not willing to get married and to have their relationship formalized in that way until the federal government would recognize their relationship."

Opponents of same-sex marriage believe there is still strong support for their fight.

"There has certainly been a shift. There's no denying that," said Stephen Hayford with New Yorker's Family Research Foundation. "But that only points to the need for us to continue to make our case that marriage is about joining together the two great halves of humanity, male and female, for the benefit of the next generation."

Supporters, like Albany activist Sheila Healy, are celebrating, while recognizing there's more work to be done.

"But I'm so proud that here in New York State we are one of those states that has passed marriage equality and there's a recognition that we're full and equal citizens," said Healy. "So this feels terrific!"