For married gay couples, court ruling is 'remarkable,' 'amazing,' and 'finally justice'

Yahoo News invited gay married couples to respond to Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8. Here, in their words and alongside their wedding photos, are their reactions. —Tim Skillern

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Joanna Chau) The Supreme Court decision repealing DOMA was monumental to both of us. We were together watching the updates on the SCOTUS blog and the minute we saw that DOMA was officially struck down, we couldn't help but screaming and crying of happiness. The first thing I told Daniel was that now we are going to see his family in Mexico and plan our lives the way we want with no obstacles and discrimination from our government. He called his mom and his sister, and our friends were calling us to congratulate us for the big victory. It was an unforgettable moment.

Our lives have been on hold for way too long and with this decision from the court, we can finally begin to plan our future together as a married couple. We no longer have to live in fear of being torn apart and separated because of this awful law. We can begin our path to a life full of opportunity in which we can realize all the dreams and promises we made to each other when we got married. Immigration will be able to schedule an interview with us now that DOMA is no longer in the way.

Daniel will be able to get a work permit and start to earn a living and will have access to health care and Social Security benefits. We will no longer go to bed at night worried and fearful of what lies ahead for us. We will now go to bed dreaming about the bright road that stands in front of us—a road we are looking forward to travelling together where our families will unite and finally meet, where our travel plans to see the world will be realized and where the prospect of creating our own family awaits us in the horizon.

There is no doubt that it is a big day not only for Daniel and me but for thousands of families that will be able to come home and will be able to stay together. The repeal of DOMA is a big win for all families. It will bring us closer as a nation, as a more perfect union. History was made on Wednesday, and we are so grateful to have been part of such an important time in our country’s history. The road ahead still presents its challenges as there are still 37 states that do not recognize gay marriage. This is the beginning of a new chapter in America. We will continue to fight until all states in our union bring equality to all.

—Yohandel Ruiz, left, and Daniel Zavala, married May 1, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Helen John Photography) Over the past several months and leading up to Wednesday’s historic decision, we have found ourselves, and our relationship, in what feels like the center of public debate about family, civil rights, marriage and democracy. We are elated with the justice delivered through the court’s landmark decision on DOMA. The ruling is a great victory for thousands of LGBT families and couples and for ourselves. It will also ensure future generations of young LGBT people will grow up with less barring them from complete civil rights. They and their relationships will be recognized more wholly. That the court sidestepped a broader marriage equality ruling by asserting that the petitioners lacked standing, however, is disappointing. Thankfully, this undoes the 9th Circuit decision and means that same-sex marriages in California may resume, but we will continue to see a patchwork of marriage rights across the states.

Since becoming engaged on New Year’s Eve of 2011, we have had a lesson in the personal is political or as a professor of Lindsey’s was fond of saying, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” While we both had previously been supportive of the freedom to marry, and were well aware of the federal benefits not afforded to same-sex couples, the issues became personal as our wedding approached and the national spotlight on the debate intensified. First, we anxiously awaited election results last November to learn whether our marriage would be recognized in our home state of Maryland. We had our first taste victory when our fellow Marylanders voted in favor of our freedom to marry. This meant that we would be able to have our ceremony satisfy the legal aspect of our marriage and that we wouldn’t have to cross a state line to make it official.

We married in the woods in Potomac, Md., near our favorite hiking trail and were fortunate to have the first warm day of spring, which allowed us the outdoor ceremony we had longed for. The wedding took place in just days after the justices heard the Prop 8 and DOMA cases in March, so we knew that as we stood before our friends and families committing to a loving and exciting life together, the justices were likely mulling over the very issues that prevented the ceremony from federal recognition. The cases before the court and the right to marry could not have felt more personal.

Today, we are enormously grateful not just to the justices, but primarily to the fierce advocates, the fighters, the generations before us that have fought for LGBT rights. We owe a depth of gratitude to those who bravely fought at Stonewall, to the Harvey Milks, the Gavin Newsomes, the Kate Kenndels, Barney Franks, Essex Hemphills, the Larry Kramers, the Ruth Simpsons, Audre Lordes, the Dan Savages, and the countless other champions who have fought for our rights and our cause in big and small and in public and private ways before we got on the bus. In just a few days we will have been married for three months and could not be happier, more in love, and now more secure knowing that our relationship will enjoy greater protections and deeper respect.

—Lindsey Dawson, right, and Jessica Chipoco

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Pepper Negron) We are beyond happy and overjoyed after hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling against DOMA on Wednesday. Knowing that our status as a married couple is finally recognized by the federal government feels like a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. We are so thankful this country is finally catching up with other leading nations on issues like same-sex marriage. We still have 37 states that do not have same-sex marriage. The wave of EQUALITY will continue to bring about change because it’s the right thing to do. We are all equal under the law now. Couples should not have to go across state lines to be legally married. Personally, I’m saddened that Justice Clarence Thomas dissented on this ruling, given that his type of marriage was once illegal until the Supreme Court changed that in 1967. Hopefully, the next 37 states will change their laws at a quicker pace so we can all move forward in this country and focus our attention on other important issues.

It is so exciting to see all the positive response on social media instantly. People are actually announcing their engagements already! Love is a beautiful thing to share and witness. We are going to see a lot more of love and happiness on display as couples finally get married. That was the main reason why we chose Times Square as our wedding location last year. We wanted to publicly show the world what marriage equality looks like. I predict we’ll be going to a lot of weddings in the near future. Our wedding day was the happiest day of our lives and we’re looking forward to seeing our friends experience the same joy.

On Wednesday night, we attended the celebration party at Stonewall, the birthplace of the gay civil rights movement 44 years ago. Edie Windsor addressed the crowd of people who were all gathered to see the woman who stood up for all of us, achieved a momentous 21st century victory for civil rights, and changed all of our futures. She is a tiny, yet vibrant, woman who truly is the modern-day David to the United States' Goliath. We will forever be grateful to her. Angel blew her a kiss last night, and she blew a kiss back to him. He was in tears. She is no longer a civilian, she is now a SUPER HERO.

— Gerard Mawn, 51, left, and Angel Love Figueroa, 40, with their ring bearer Appolonia Cruz on July 6, 2012, in Times Square

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

This morning, as my wife returned home from work, and as I prepared for my usual work day, in the few minutes we typically have to say hello and kiss goodbye as I head out the door, we were able to sit together to absorb the monumental SCOTUS rulings on DOMA and Prop 8.

Over the last 24 hours, I have experienced every emotion possible over the anticipation of the outcome: anger, anxiousness, confusion, restlessness, happiness, excitement, eagerness, peacefulness, love. After hearing the rulings, I let out a sigh of relief, tears of joy streamed and in that moment I felt simply elated.

Let me say that these rulings do not hold any weight in the validity of our love or our union, as our bond is heartfelt and driven; no one could ever tell us otherwise. However, what the rulings did solidify for us is that we are human beings, with rights, and to be respected as such, as equals among our peers. We feel that at its core, the rulings send an even bigger message to our youth and generations to come: It is OK to be gay, your human rights are important, you can love and be loved, and it DOES get better!

Not only are we excited for those in states where same-sex marriage is legal, knowing that the more than 1,100 additional rights being bestowed upon them will afford them the legal safeguards granted in heterosexual marriages, but we are ecstatic about the Prop 8 decision to dismiss the appeal! We can, very soon, be legally married in the state in which we reside. Prop 8 was the most insulting and degrading law to live in the shadows of. We love our state, and we love our family, friends and neighbors! Yet to know that something of this nature was actually voted upon by people we pass on the streets daily, people who we may interact with at work, church, in social settings—this was the part that was the most disturbing to us. There was no rhyme or reason for such hate but to inflict pain and to discriminate.

Today we are stronger as a whole. Today our hearts are a bit lighter from any burdens that were there yesterday. Today we stand together with our friends and family in unison, as equals. Today is a day forever ingrained in history! Hate will not prevail because LOVE WINS!

—Tamara, 37, right, and Cheryllanne, 33, Abrio, of San Diego, married Oct. 11, 2012

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

“It's almost surreal. More than anything, it's a relief; the biggest relief of our lives,” Abbott told me after the rulings. I second that. It was 7 in the morning when I saw the ruling. I could hardly sleep the night before, and I woke up early the morning of. I'm traveling for work so I was sitting there, choked up with tears of joy at 7 a.m. alone in my bedroom. I called Abbott as soon as I heard and choked up then, too. We saw Wednesday that they clearly decided under the justification that every family deserves the same rights and protections, that we can keep our marriage and that the government will support it. —Arshad Hasan, 32, left, and Abbott Stark, 31, married on June 1, 2013, in Stowe, Vt.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Steven Rosen Photography) It feels great. All we’ve ever wanted is to be treated fairly. Now gay people have a clear shot at true equality. We’re no longer blocked. Out with the skim marriage, we’ll take ours whole.

—James Brubaker and John Bardsley, Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. The couple met on Valentine's Day in 1993 on the dance floor at Webster Hall in New York and have been together ever since. They married on April 1, 2013, at the office of the city clerk on Worth Street in New York.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Brushfire Photography) I met my husband, Mike, online three and a half years ago. We had been talking for months, but once we met we were together from the first day onward! We were married legally in Boston on Oct. 9, 2012, at the Boston Public Gardens. For friends and family, we held a big "faux" wedding at the Windmill Winery on Oct. 27, 2012 in Florence, Ariz. It was amazing to see the support and love we got from both of our family and friends. It showed both of us how much have changed in recent years, and just how much our family and friends love and support us. We were both excited to hear about the decisions from the Supreme Court. Although we still have a fight ahead of us, it is so awesome to see the support we have not only from our family and friends, but from our nation!

—Brandon Mendez, 30, right, and Mike Ronquillo, 30, and their dog, Parker

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo courtesy Nicole and Jennifer McDaigle) Jenn and I were so excited by the news released Wednesday. We are fortunate enough to live in a state that allows gay marriage, but even with that, there were limitations federally to our marriage. We couldn't be happier with the outcome, and to be a part of such history being made in our country. We are looking forward to celebrating this victory with fellow LGBT people at NYC Pride this weekend.

— Nicole, right, 29, and Jennifer McDaigle, 35, married in Connecticut on Jan. 19, 2013. The couple lives in New York.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

Although we grew up in very different parts of the world—Andy in Mumbai, India, and Steve in Thousand Oaks, Calif.—we met in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2005 as we were both coming out to ourselves. We moved a year later to New York and were married in Central Park in a small ceremony five years later, nearly a year after New York legalized gay marriage.

Now that we are back in D.C., we have been anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's ruling and what it would say about the legitimacy of our relationship. For the record, every moment that we have spent together has felt “legitimate.” That said, our marriage last year made us realize how much the word and institution mattered to how our friends, families, and society treated us. This isn't about tax benefits—it is about our relationship being afforded the respect it deserves. Nothing more, nothing less.

We applaud the court for having recognized DOMA for what it was: “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

As we celebrate this decision, let us not forget that 37 out of the 50 states still do not recognize marriage equality, and hundreds of gays, lesbians, and transgender people are treated differently or violently attacked just for who they are. It's gratifying to live in a country where “free will” always prevails—as imperfect as the process and timing may be. Here's hoping that every queer kid in the world grows up in a world of love and acceptance.

—Andy Ramamoorthy and Steven Perez

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Chris Carter Photography) In the end, I am very gratified that the court ruled the way I had thought they would. That's not to say I was confident. Quite the opposite: After the previous day's upsetting ruling on the Voting Rights Act, I was nervous going into Wednesday—even though I still thought the odds were in our favor.

I work in an office made up of mostly LGBT people. We awaited the decision watching the TV in the conference room while we also monitored SCOTUSblog, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites on our various screens. Chris was home and we followed the decision together over AIM as well. When the DOMA decision came down, we all cheered. I was hoping—naively—that this decision would come down with better than a 5-4 split, and the closeness of the vote had me even more nervous for the Prop 8 ruling.

Immediately, there were voices on the Internet speculating that victory on DOMA was a set up for a loss on Prop 8. When the Prop 8 ruling actually came in, I was elated. Despite the fact that this decision was less-sweeping than the DOMA decision, I also had lower expectations for this ruling. I had expected the court to rule in a way that provided marriage equality for Californians, but in the narrowest way possible. The conservative justices had implied as much in the oral arguments.

After the rulings came out, it was a regular day at work, except that I spent a lot more time on Facebook following my friends' celebratory posts. I read various articles examining the implications of DOMA being shot down. I teared up watching a YouTube video of Edie Windsor's press conference.

At the end of the day, I ran out the door and rode the subway down to the rally at Stonewall where Edie was speaking. The crowd was big and I couldn't get close enough to see the speakers, but I did run into friends—and my husband—who pushed cups of champagne into my hand, and we celebrated.

When Chris and I climbed into bed a few hours later I said to him, "I feel really happy."

—Chris DeCarlo, 43, right, and Chris Toland, 44

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © R&K Photography) Wednesday morning, as we watched both the striking down of DOMA and the dismissal of Prop 8, we were overjoyed—huge smiles and a few tears. The moment seemed very historic, comparable to Obama being elected as the first black president.

As we drove to work, we contemplated what's next for us. Since we have our domestic partnership, we are unsure as to if we need to apply for a marriage license or if our partnership will roll over into a marriage like those in Washington state. From a federal standpoint, the fall of DOMA will improve our lives legally, financially and protect our future family's rights. We feel that it would have been more powerful if the court had deemed Prop 8 unconstitutional so that more people would benefit from the decision. However, we both feel that this is the start of a snowball, and more people will demand rights and more states will jump on the band wagon—hopefully. Gay marriage should have been passed years ago, so now we need to press on to bigger issues.

In the court’s opinion, the justices stated that, "DOMA seeks to injure the very class New York [and other states] seeks to protect. By doing so it violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government." We feel that this statement raises questions about "sexual orientation," and "gender identity" as potentially receiving protections as protected classes. These rulings humanized our community.

—Jeunesse, 33, right, and Candace Monroe-Speed, 25, live in Vallejo, Calif., and were married on June 1, 2013.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

Once marriage equality passed in New York back in the summer of 2011, we quickly decided to get married in November of the same year after being together for 25 years. That event was a major emotional watershed for us.

During our relationship, we have witnessed gays demonized and dismissed during the worst years of the AIDS crisis; the hysteria over gay marriage in the 1990s culminated in the passage of DOMA and the adoption of don't ask, don't tell. Then we witnessed the next wave of anti-gay invective during the shameful 2004 presidential campaign.

During our lifetimes, we have seen Congress and the Supreme Court grant rights to disenfranchised groups, but we were too young in many cases to fully appreciate the impact. With the ruling today on DOMA, we now understand the elation that you can feel when the powers are finally acting in your favor. While we are glad that we can now feel like a couple fully in the eyes of the law; it is bittersweet in light of the large number of states in the U.S. that still feel it's their duty to treat GLBT citizens a second class, and we feel that there will be lawsuits filed in at least some of those states to begin the long and necessary process of reversing the bigoted trend that conservatives began back in the ‘90s.

Today's ruling must also be seen in light of the two misguided earlier rulings this week on affirmative action and the Voting Right Act. Two steps forward countered by two steps back.

—Jerry Arko and Hank Baker

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

Tracie and I were married in NYC on Nov. 20, 2011. I then had to move to the UK to be with my British wife, since DOMA barred her from immigrating to the United States as my spouse. We are now thrilled to be able to fully claim both of our countries.

Years ago, Justice Marshall in the Goodrich decision wrote: “Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

We are delighted today to be able to access the federal civil marriage rights and responsibilities previously closed to us. We now share these rights with our straight brothers and sisters without diminishing theirs.

—Claudia, right, and Tracie Brind-Woody of Blewbury, Oxfordshire, UK, and Meadows of Dan, Va.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © studio smc photography) Chanel and I married on Oct. 21, 2012, our 10th anniversary together, in Lenox, Mass. We were inspired to get married by friends of ours in their 70s who decided to be "part of the movement to change things" and got married in a D.C. courthouse in 2011. And though we thought we knew what our relationship meant to us and our community, the act of getting married in the eyes of our friends and being married in the eyes of the state of Massachusetts changed and deepened our commitment to each other. Because we live in North Carolina, we had been told twice by our state legislature that we were to remain invisible as a committed couple. When we heard of the repeal of DOMA, we had a reaction similar to the one we had during President Obama's inaugural speech at his inclusion of the LGBT community in his plan for America. We have become visible—and we look pretty good!

—Tanya Arbogast, right, and Chanel Copeland

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo courtesy of Peter Monn and Alex Paredes) We were married on Aug. 25, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev. At the time we were married, our home state of Indiana did not, and still does not, legally acknowledge same-sex marriages. In fact, with the striking of DOMA yesterday, our governor, Mike Pence, issued a statement that he will support state government on a local amendment to stop same-sex marriage in Indiana. For these reasons, we chose to get married, have a wedding, and acknowledge to each other in front of friends and family, the union of our souls in life, although not legal. We were just unwilling to wait for the day when we might be able to legally demonstrate our love for one another. We are overjoyed by the Supreme Court's decision in DOMA and feel that the LGBT community has finally been found equal in the eyes of the government. We feel that this is an unbelievably glorious moment, especially when, in other countries, people are killed for being gay. As overjoyed as we are, we would be even happier if President Obama showed his support by making an executive order to unify same-sex marriage under the exact same conditions, federally, as every other human being in the United States, instead of waiting for this to pass state by state. Nonetheless, this is a huge leap forward for gay rights, one in which we should never forget those who came before us and fought for our rights to make this happen. We hope one day our country become a country unified, not divided, by love.

—Peter Monn, 40, right, and Alex Paredes, 29, of Indianapolis

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo courtesy of Ronald Munson and Freddy Cuadrado) When the Supreme Court announced its decisions, I was at work, and at 10:05, my sister called, but I was unable to answer it. I knew right then why she was calling, and I checked online to see the decisions. My immediate reaction was emotionally overwhelming and tears began flowing. Co-workers saw me and one blurted out, "My Facebook is blowing up with the news," immediately knowing what had affected me so. Others gathered around as the two of us hugged each other with tears running down our faces; some wondered what terrible thing had happened to cause us to react this way. Still crying, the two of us began to explain what DOMA and Prop 8 mean to those of us in same-sex marriages.

Although Freddy and I have families that support and respect our relationship and our marriage and would no way seek to cause either of us harm or suffering if DOMA were not struck down, it would be a financial burden on us to protect each other financially and medically by legal means. Documents would need to be prepared and paid for, which are not required of non same-sex married couples just to be able to guarantee visitation rights and prove to hospitals that we have the right of making decisions as well as to guarantee that our assets and properties are passed on or transferred to one another according to our wishes.

Now that DOMA has been struck down, we can have the same rights, benefits, and the advantages of filing our income taxes jointly, sharing in benefits such as FMLA in our employment as well as Social Security and Medicare when that time comes. I am sure there are numerous other benefits we are eligible for now, but just as important is the fact that this now removes the stigma of a “separate but equal” status as a legally married couple in our state, but not recognized by the federal government. One day young people, those growing up from today onward , will be able to love whom they want, marry whom they want and never be made to feel that their union is anything less than that of any other couple—as long as they are fortunate enough to live in a state where same-sex marriages are legal.

—Ronald Munson, right, and Freddy Cuadrado, married Sept. 1, 2012, in New Haven, Conn.

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Steven Rosen Photography) Beth and I met online in 2008, but finally met in person January 2009. We married Oct. 22, 2011. We were extremely excited when it became "legal" to be married in our home state of New York, especially before the date of our wedding. DOMA's demise is the icing on the cake.

The initial reaction was elation...with a side of disbelief. I never believed it would change. Beth and I had hoped, but I was jaded and doubtful. But after all these years, we are full-fledged citizens of these United States... the states and the country to which we have paid our generous share of taxes. Being "middle-aged" it is comforting to know that my wife will be my uncontested beneficiary, no matter what. I don't have a will yet, and though my family knows my wishes and would never exclude Beth from my estate, it is a relief to know she will not be taxed on a home we have both paid for and is rightfully ours.

I am grateful to the justices who interpret the law objectively and are not clouded by the rhetoric and hatred many of our lawmakers spout. Our nation was founded on equality and freedom. For a while, it seemed we were headed backward with DOMA. Equal is equal. We are finally recognized as citizens with truly equal rights.

—Elena and Beth Clyde-Correnti

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

I met my wife Melissa in 2008 when she was working as a nurse as well as studying to be a nurse practitioner and I was a paramedic. Since then we fell in love, combined our lives, we have worked hard, cared for our rescue dogs together, and cultivated our friendships. We have mourned the loss of loved ones together, we have moved twice, we bought a house, and we have paid our taxes. My point being: I feel like we live a very “normal” life, boring even at times.

After a few years together, I knew that Melissa was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Since we live in St. Louis, where same-sex marriages are banned, we knew that our marriage might not be recognized legally, but we also knew that we wanted to commit to one another on a level much deeper than any state law could ever reach.

We were legally married in Iowa in August 2011. I took Melissa’s last name and any other small allowances our partially legal marriage would allow us. The sad truth, though, was that as soon as we returned to Missouri, our marriage meant nothing to our state, and all I had earned was the right to call myself Wagner; as I said, though, we are committed to one another on a level much deeper than any state law could ever reach.

As we have awaited the SCOTUS rulings on DOMA and Prop 8, we are also blessed to be awaiting the birth of our first child. Melissa is 5 months pregnant, and I’ve only hoped that our son would be born to an age where his moms would not be federally discriminated against.

When I heard today that DOMA was struck down, I was elated and moved to tears. The news on Prop 8 left me slightly confused, but it still leaves room for justice in our state eventually. With Section 3 of DOMA struck down, those who were married in states in which same sex marriage is legal will have full access to federal benefits now. For us in Missouri, access to these benefits will be complex, but we are very hopeful about the future of equality.

I came out in 1998 while living in St. Charles, Mo. I was essentially kicked out of my youth group, taken to court by a girlfriend’s father, and faced extremely hurtful discrimination from the “Christians” I once looked up to. Today I am so touched, and I never could have imagined that we could come so far on LGBT rights in such a short period of time! Now, I am married, expecting a child, and an intern writing for Vital Voice, the best LGBT magazine in our state. The fight for equality in Missouri marches on toward a full victory at some point.

—Lauren Wagner and Melissa Wagner

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

We are over the moon. The Supreme Court made the right decision. It made history. It is a huge step down the road for equality and human rights. The Declaration of Independence said: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Now those words are true again. This decision validates the feeling: now we are to be treated equal and have the same rights to care about the person whom we love. We have the same rights and benefits as others.

We met in Hungary 18 years ago (on May 1, 1995), fell in love and we shared our lives from that day. We lived many countries: in Budapest nine years, in Moscow six years, in London two years and in Los Angeles for one year). We married in New York two months ago. Unfortunately because of DOMA, even our legal New York marriage didn’t give me the right to stay in the United States with my spouse. One and half months ago, I had to move back to Hungary and wait for the Supreme Court decision about DOMA. This is a sad story especially since we could live together in London and Moscow where we were both foreigners but not in the United States, which is the home country of my husband. For us, DOMA falling was the most important thing in our life right now. We can be reunited as a family. We can wake up each morning next to each other. We can do our little everyday things together. We can be there when the other needs support. We can laugh or cry or just be quiet together and nobody can separate our love anymore.

—Tibor Stankoczy-Perkins, 44, and Steve Perkins, 49

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

(Photo © Gregg Peterson Photography) I woke Wednesday convinced that I would only be happy if sweeping court decisions were rendered. I began to think about all those who are no longer alive to be anxiously awaiting decisions but who never wavered in their desire to continue the fight for the generations who would follow them. My husband and I have two gay nephews and are passionate about securing equality to them and never wanting them to ever feel “second class” or “less than.” Keeping all this in mind, and after hearing the decisions, I became overwhelmed with just how big today is and how profoundly better our nephews’ lives will be. We live in New York, but we decided to marry in San Francisco in 2008 (we are in the 18,000 affected by Prop. 8) because we wanted to be in the epicenter of gay rights. We are humbled when we think of Harvey Milk and so many others. In closing, we reaffirm our belief that this country is great.

—Donald Gamarano, left, and Louis Wiese, Medford, N.Y; they have been together 19 years and married in San Francisco in 2008

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

The rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 by the Supreme Court are definitely huge starting victories for same-sex marriage in the United States. We would have liked a sweeping nationwide victory; however, that was not the ruling. Once California begins same-sex marriages again, approximately 30 percent of U.S. citizens will now have the right to same-sex marriage recognized at the federal level.

The fight for our civil rights will not be over until 100 percent of U.S. citizens have the right to same-sex marriage. This is very important when it comes to taxes, health insurance, immigration, Social Security benefits and basic human rights.

Let me introduce us. I am Jeff, 29, and I work in finance. My husband is Johnny, 26, and he works in the health care field. He currently gets taxed on the “fair market value” of my health insurance plan, which is a huge and unfair financial burden on us. Some corporations cover this cost for their employees; his does not.

Income taxes are just another reminder of the prejudice and inequality we face. We live in New Jersey a state that offers civil unions; we have identical rights at the state level as any married heterosexual couple. Our Republican governor, Chris Christie, recently vetoed a same-sex marriage bill, stating he supports equal rights for same-sex couples but stops short of calling it marriage.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not include civil unions in the DOMA ruling. Your state must currently call it marriage to be recognized at the federal level. There are several ways being considered to achieve full same-sex marriage equality in the state of New Jersey that would then be recognized at the federal level. Many are hoping New Jersey will be the next state to do so.

We are extremely happy with the decisions, but still left feeling like second-class citizens and have many unanswered questions. What happens when a same-sex married couple moves to a different state? Will the Supreme Court eventually decide that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage in the United States of America, home of the free? These, plus many other questions will be answered over time. For now, we wait—but not silently.

We received nothing but love and support from our family and friends. Love knows no gender.

—Jeff, left, and Johnny Farlow, married in a civil union in New Jersey on April 7, 2012

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

My name is Derrek Becker and my husband is Ryan Gallego. We’re 31 and 28. We were both raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley, an area known for its sprawling flat terrain, rich agriculture and conservative values. We grew up on the same street, just 12 miles apart most of our lives. However, we did not meet until May 2006 when we ran into each other inside a gay night club in Fresno. Immediately after meeting, we were inseparable—like Britney Spears and her favorite pair of Ugg boots. In 2009 we moved to Spokane, Wash., and lived there for two years while I worked on obtaining my master’s degree. After graduation, Ryan and I packed up and moved to Portland, Ore., where we live.

After more than seven years together, we were married on May 25 in Portland on a gorgeous spring day. Current Oregon laws do not allow for gay-marriage rights, so, instead, we celebrated our domestic partnership in front of our friends and family who chose to support us.

We are both elated with the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. Just imagine all of the fabulous weddings everyone has been missing out on. This is a monumental point in the American story. Gay rights are a civil rights issue that affects this nation as whole, and there is a clear evolution toward a more understanding and accepting nation.

We are disappointed that there was not a more sweeping decision, allowing for all gay marriage to be legal in every state. The Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional and a violation of the Fifth Amendment; it then seems logical to ascertain that they should have also declared gay marriage legal nationwide.

Instead, they’ve left this decision up to each state. Because the Supreme Court chose not to finish what they started, Ryan and I can still only be domestic partners in Oregon unless the state says otherwise. It’s time for every state to say otherwise—to make marriage available to all couples.

Ryan and I hope the court’s ruling will have a ripple effect on the collective American conscience and bring about more positive changes, not just for gay rights but for human rights. We all have the basic human right to be happy, and it’s clear that the majority of Supreme Court justices understand that.

—Derrek E. Becker, right, and Ryan Gallego

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

We are so happy and haven't been able to stop crying and holding each other. We now have a future together that is free of doubt. Nedo and I can now go to Croatia so we can be with his family and safely come home to the United States. We have very few words to describe how amazing this is and are totally in shock. We look forward to planning our future together. We no longer have a cloud of doubt and fear lingering over our relationship. It’s truly an amazing day, and we both are so very, very happy. Thank you, USA, for doing the right thing! It’s a great day to be an American!

—Jon Evans, left, and Nedo Stankovic

Couples react to gay marriage decisions

This is truly a remarkable day and a day I never thought I would witness. The Supreme Court decision today that repeals Section 3 of DOMA is an amazing victory for me, my wife Teresa, our family and all loving and committed married same-sex couples in the United States. Teresa and I waited 30 years before we were able to marry in Maryland, the state where we’ve built a life together and raised our three beautiful children.

Our marriage on May 18 (and one week before our 30th anniversary) was incredibly emotional and important. We are so happy that we could finally get married and celebrate our life together before our family and friends. To finally hear the words, "by the power vested in me by the state of Maryland, I now pronounce you wife and wife," was breathtaking. Today, we heard that again, loud and clear from the Supreme Court. Finally, justice!

Today’s Supreme Court decision means we’ll be given full respect and protection by not only the great state of Maryland but now by our country’s federal government. We will now be treated the same as every other legally married couple in America. Yes, finally, justice!

While this is an amazing and historic day, and I will be enjoying the victory with my family and celebrating for my own family and all same-sex couples in the United States—we need to keep working to make sure every loving and committed same-sex couple in this country will also be able to rejoice and celebrate the freedom to marry very soon—so we have justice for all!

—Jo Deutsch, right, and Teresa Williams. They married May 18, 2013, in Maryland. Their children are, from left, Jake, Bena and Matthew.