21 families cheering on the historic Supreme Court ruling on DOMA
June 26, 2013
Today is a historic day. The United States Supreme Court ruled on two landmark cases concerning the freedom to marry - the legal challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal protections to legally married same-sex couples, and the legal challenge to Proposition 8, which stripped same-sex couples of the freedom to marry in California.
The Supreme Court announced its decision in Windsor v. United States, voting 5-4 to strike down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage. By striking down Section 3 of DOMA, the Supreme Court has affirmed that all loving and committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment. It marks an enormous victory for equal justice under the law and ends DOMA’s two-tiered system for marriage, which for over 16 years has forced the government to pick and choose among marriages and create a "gay exception" that only caused pain, uncertainty, and financial harm. Read the full ruling here.
It's a great day for married same-sex couples living in states with the freedom to marry - and for those who do not, this is a huge step forward. Check out these 21 families having an amazing day celebrating this victory - and read their stories.
Tracey & Maggie Cooper-Harris
Tracey and Maggie married on November 1, 2008 in Van Nuys, CA, just days before Proposition 8 stripped California's same-sex couples of the freedom to marry. Now, nearly five years later, they are grateful to finally see the end of DOMA, the law that has harmed them and thousands of same-sex couples for so long. As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Tracey knows that she and her wife are entitled to a wide range of military benefits and federal benefits - but because of DOMA, they could not receive these protections. "There was a flood of emotions for me today," Tracey explained, listing, "Joy, relief, screaming/shouting, impromptu dancing, and laughter all at the same time. The fact that all married couples will have those federal benefits of marriage show that once again, our justice system has recognized an injustice and changed it for the better. Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional - and this is a moment that I will love telling future generations about." "
Juka Mendes & Jonathan Malumay
This year, Juka and Jonathan have been anxiously waiting on the Supreme Court to rule on DOMA - as a binational, military couple living in California (but legally married in New York) - DOMA acted as a real threat to their life together and, if it were allowed to stand, could have separated the husbands by forcing Juka to return to Portgual. Now, when DOMA is fully repealed, Jonathan should be able to sponsor his husband for immigration purposes and the young men can truly step forward together in their married life of love and commitment. "Marriage has shown me that a lot of things can be shared," Jonathan said. "And now that I'm married, I want to share everything with him. I want to share everything with the man that I love - my husband." Read more about Juka and Jonathan HERE.
Gail Marquis & Audrey Smaltz
New York, NY
Gail Marquis is a former Olympic Basketball player, and Audrey Smaltz is a former model and fashion editor. The couple fell in love 14 years ago, and they each say that the other is "foremost in my mind." They married in November 2011, and now, Audrey can't get enough of introducing Gail as her wife. Now, their marriage will have all of the federal protections as marriages between different-sex couples. Don't miss this great video, produced with 'The Devotion Project,' which perfectly captures why Gail and Audrey make each other smile. Watch the Video HERE.
Robert & Mark Cotter-Dacres
Jersey City, NJ and London, England
For Robert and Mark, the Supreme Court ruling today striking down DOMA could literally bring the two men together. With no more DOMA-imposed immigration barrier, Mark, an American citizen living in New Jersey, should be able to sponsor his husband Robert, a citizen of the United Kingdom living in London, for immigration purposes. For several years, Mark and Robert have operated two homes, spending weeks apart and flying across the Atlantic many times each year just to see each other. They have wanted to live in the United States - and now that the Supreme Court has taken the first step toward dismantling DOMA, Mark will soon no longer have to choose between his husband and his country.
Laura Blackley & Cindy Jordan
As a legally married couple - they tied the knot in California before Proposition 8 was passed - owning a business together in North Carolina Laura and Cindy are intimately familiar with the importance of the 1,100+ federal protections and responsibilities of marriage that they have been denied under DOMA. Now that DOMA will soon be overturned, they're looking forward to working toward the freedom to marry in North Carolina. "I don't want to leave here. I have a job here. I have a community here," Laura said. "You want me to pack up and move my entire family? My farming operation that I built from the ground up? Why should I do that? Why should I disappear just so that I don't upset this equilibrium - this thing that needs to be upset?" Read more about Laura and Cindy HERE.
Jo Deutsch & Teresa Williams
Just last month, after 30 years of commitment - and raising three wonderful children - Jo and Teresa were finally able to marry in their home state of Maryland, thanks to last falls successful Vote For 6 campaign to secure the freedom to marry. Now, their marriage will be respected by the federal government, and they couldn't be more excited. The ruling has a unique significance for Jo, who works as Freedom to Marry's Federal Director and has worked to end federal marriage discrimination by repealing DOMA and ensuring protections for all same-sex couples and their families. Read more about Jo and Teresa HERE.
Kyle & Elliot
"Rumor has it that if it rains on your wedding day, it brings good luck," Kyle said, remembering his May 2013 wedding day in Washington, D.C. to his husband Elliot. Their good fortune from last month was demonstrated again today, when the Supreme Court stood on the Right Side of History and overturned Section 3 of DOMA. The ruling carries unique significance for Kyle and Elliot - since Kyle serves in the U.S. Navy, Elliot will now be able to receive the military protections that the federal government extends to the spouses of heterosexual service members. "This will take away so much of the stress that I deal with on a daily basis," Kyle said. "It means that my status in all of my records will be changed to married - and that no matter what, my spouse will be my spouse."
Cathy Davis & Catriona Dowling
Cathy and Catrona married last year in Council Bluffs, Iowa, but because of DOMA, they worried constantly about being separated by the federal government: Cathy is from Dublin, Ireland and is not a U.S. citizen, and so, since the federal government did not respect their marriage, Catriona was not permitted to sponsor Cathy for U.S. citizenship, as any married different-sex couple could do. Now, they won't have that constant stress or threat to their life together. "Having the freedom to marry and having our marriage recognized as equal would release our family from the constant fears of being split up," Catriona said. "It would allow us to plan for our future and our children's future. It would give us back control of our lives. It would allow us the simple pleasure of looking forward to signing up for the next children's soccer league knowing that our family is secured with the same rights as all other families - and that my spouse is entitled to a Green Card just like all spouses of U.S. Citizens." Read more about Cathy and Catriona.
Reyna & Louella Morgan-Richer
On this historic day, Reyna and Louella joined in with millions of Americans across the country celebrating a huge step forward for the freedom to marry in the United States. The women met 12 years ago, joined together in a civil union in May 2003, and finally married legally in May 2013. "We have looked forward to the day when your ‘marriage' is actually a marriage in not only the state of Vermont's eyes, but in the eyes of the country," Reyna said. "We love each other in a way that I cannot explain, and we're so happy to see DOMA overturned."
Jonathan & Dwayne Beebe-Franqui
Gulf Breeze, FL
With today's ruling, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Dwayne Beebe and his husband Jonathan will be able to see their marriage - celebrated legally in Maryland this year and enjoyed by the couple's friends and family members this spring in Pensacola, FL - be extended the full legal respect of marriage. "We've made a promise to each other about our goals and our future together, and that's important," Jonathan explained. "It's important to have that union recognized in your community, and in your home, and in your family. It's important because marriage is the ultimate commitment you can make to the person that you love, and we want our community to understand how strong our commitment is to one another - how strong our commitment is to the person we love." Read more about Jonathan and Dwayne HERE.
Leah Nichols & Natalie Fox
New Orleans, LA
Leah and Natalie are thrilled about this first step in dismantling DOMA - as a couple living in New Orleans, LA, they know how important this federal respect is for their life together and their son, Hayes. Because Louisiana does not extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, they need the critical federal protections so that they can work toward full protections for their family while staying close to their loved ones in Alabama and Louisiana. Read more about Leah and Natalie HERE.
Christie & Tara Mulea-Jackson
Christie and Tara have known each other for most of their lives - they met when they were 13 years old after Tara's family moved to Virginia, right in the neighborhood of Christie's family. Now, after reconnecting in 2007, beginning a life together (and with Tara's three sons), and getting legally married in the District of Columbia, they are excited at the prospect of a long future together without the complications caused by DOMA. "Without DOMA, we can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing that our family is protected," Christie said. "We'll be receiving the same protection and equal rights for our family that other married couples receive!" Photo by Vness Photography.
Mark Maxwell & Timothy Young
Mark and Tim, who have been together for two decades and have raised four wonderful children together, have been speaking out about the harms of DOMA for years - including, most recently, in this video produced by the Campaign for Southern Equality and Freedom to Marry. They're excited to see an end to DOMA and eager to push ahead until couples in all fifty states - including their own state of North Carolina - can share in marriage. Read more about Mark and Tim HERE.
Jamelle & Karane Thomas-Willaims
Although they legally married in Washington, D.C. in October 2012, Jamelle and Karane's marriage was not respected by the federal government. Now, that will soon change for Jamelle, who serves in the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Jamelle, who serves her community as a police officer. Yesterday, they spoke with CNN about the impending DOMA decision. They said, "I should be able to walk with my wife hand in hand and live our life. We shouldn't have to sit here on the edge of our seats, waiting for a decision. Are we going to finally be able to just be recognized without any strings attached?... We're humans, we live in a strange society, and we have to work with what we've got." Read more about Jamelle and Karane HERE.
Mary Jo Kennedy & Jo-Ann Shain
New York, NY
Today is an exciting day for Mary Jo and Jo-Ann, who have been speaking out about why marriage matters for years, including my serving as plaintiffs in a Lambda Legal case that spurred the movement for marriage in New York. In 2011, they became one of the first couples in New York to tie the knot, and in years since, they have spoken out about the financial pains of DOMA. "For most of our years together, we had never thought that legal marriage would be a part of our lives or that we would need the protections that marriage offered," Jo-Ann said. "That all changed ... Marriage means that we are finally full citizens of NYS. That means the world to us." Read more about Mary Jo and Jo-Ann HERE.
Mario Pabón & Jason McAllister
New York, NY
College sweethearts Mario and Jason married last year in Astoria, Queens after seven years of commitment. They married on the exact day of their seventh anniversary, and shared their heart-warming vows with us this spring. "For me, marriage has opened deeper levels in our relationship and expanded what we have," Mario said. "It's so much more than just a piece of paper. It's so much more than just a group of people saying, 'Yes, you're married.' It's a legal, spiritual contract with this person you love. It's everything we had hoped for." With DOMA overturned, the legal end of that contract will now, at long last, be federally recognized. Read more about Mario and Jason HERE.
Kershunda & Keyana Washington
Havre de Grace, MD
For Kershunda and Keyana, who met when they were both serving as soldiers in the U.S. Army, today's DOMA ruling means that their marriage - which they celebrated in Washington, D.C. in 2011 - will finally allow them to access the federal protections they deserve. Those protections will allow them and their two young boys to feel secure and protected. "My marriage matters because it says I am committed to the love of my life," Kershunda said. "It means being able to walk side by side and be recognized as a strong military couple that sacrifices just like other couples do."
Mark Bromley & David Salie
Mark and David, who live in the nation's capital with their two children - 3-year-old Tallulah and 6-month-old Justice - are excited that the Supreme Court has ruled against DOMA. "Marriage is about rights, but also about recognition" the couple said. "This month, nine Americans will sit in judgment of our family. From their perch on the Supreme Court, they will decide whether our family deserves the same rights and responsibilities as other families in our country. Will the Supreme Court tell our children that they are destined to grow up in a second-class family? Let's hope ‘equality' means equality for all. May Justice - and Tallulah - prevail!"
Lindsey Dawson & Jessica Chipoco
Silver Spring, MD
After marrying in march near their home in Maryland, Lindsey and Jessica got a taste of the confusing, damaging harms of DOMA when they filed their taxes and were confronted with a confusion flurry of legal paperwork because the federal government did not respect their marriage. As they begin their life together, Lindsey and Jessica are thrilled to step forward into a post-DOMA world. "Visibility makes a difference - and it matters," Lindsey said. "This visibility is political - and I'm really pleased to be a part of it." Read more about Lindsey and Jessica HERE.
Daniel Zavala & Yohandel Ruiz
Miami, FL and Monterrey, Mexico
Like so many other married binational same-sex couples, Yohandel and Daniel have been working hard this year with The DOMA Project to fight for Daniel's green card. Now, if DOMA is overturned, the couple should have a clear path to being reunited and sharing their life and love together in the United States. Read more about Daniel and Yohandel HERE. (Photo by Joanna Chau)
Mike Stanley & Robert Harnes
Mike and Robbie, who celebrate their tenth anniversary this October, are thrilled that they'll be able to celebrate their love together in a post-DOMA world. They live with their 15-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son in Florida. Life without DOMA, Mike explained, "means protection, security and respect for our very valid and loving family in the eyes of the country we love so much."