On Wednesday (6-26-13), the US Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act... a section that had denied certain federal benefits to same sex couples. The court said that language unconstitutionally discriminated against gays and lesbians. And the decision prompted strong reactions closer to home. Aspen Public Radio’s Rebecca Kruth reports.
Aspen’s gay community is celebrating after yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling.
Todd Chamberlin is on the board of directors for Aspen Out, a group that provides support and services to gays and lesbians.
“I think there were probably a lot of us crying and laughing at the same time because we were very excited. This decision by the Supreme Court means a lot to the community,” Chamberlin said. “I know people that have partners that are from different countries and this decision allows them to stay in the country, so that’s exciting for some of us in the community here.”
Chamberlin called the decision a giant leap forward.
“Some of us have been waiting for this for a long time. Me and my partner have been together for about 16 years now, so we’ve been kind of waiting for this day for a long time,” he said.
Under yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, the federal government will now recognize the rights of gay and lesbian couples already married in one of the 13 states where gay marriage is legal. Those rights include health and tax benefits.
This spring, the Colorado state legislature approved civil unions for same sex couples. Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government.
In an email to supporters, State House Speaker Mark Ferrandino called yesterday’s decision, “a big day for equality in Colorado” but says there’s still work to be done.
Ferrandino says he and other legislators plan to continue to push for what he calls "full marriage equality" in Colorado.