Updated: 7:00 p.m. EDT.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and ruled that legally-married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The court also cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. The justices ruled that opponents of gay marriage didn’t have the right to appeal lower court rulings that struck down a ban on same-sex unions.
Among the many federal benefits that married gay couples will now enjoy due to the DOMA ruling is the right to file federal taxes jointly. The ruling also has implications for some health care benefits and Social Security benefits.
Following is reaction from around the nation:
(Check back for additional reaction as it becomes available.)
Reaction is sorted alphabetically, by state.
GOP chair Bill Armistead says Alabama taxpayers will now “be on the hook” for funding federal benefits to homosexual couples even though a decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act only affects states where gay marriage is legal.
Armistead says the United States was founded on Christian values, and he says the Bible is clear that marriage can only between heterosexual couples.
Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, says Arizona’s state ban on gay marriage was upheld by the Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday. She praised the court for recognizing the will of Arizona voters who have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gay rights supporters in Arkansas said they were encouraged Wednesday by a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions supporting same-sex couples, but members of the state’s congressional delegation reiterated they view marriage as between a man and a woman.
Eric McDaniel, the president of the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas, said he hoped the rulings would have a symbolic impact in Arkansas and encourage people to rethink the state’s gay marriage ban. McDaniel married his husband in May in New York.
The head of the conservative group that campaigned for the marriage ban said that while he wasn’t entirely pleased with the ruling, he was glad justices didn’t find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
“Same sex marriage is not the foregone conclusion many would have us believe it is, but I doubt the debate is going away anytime soon,” said Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council.
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, the state’s only Democrat in Washington, told reporters he still believes marriage is between a man and a woman and said Arkansas‘ constitutional amendment settles the issue from a state perspective. Pryor said earlier this year he believed the DOMA was constitutional and disagreed with former President Bill Clinton, who has announced his opposition to the 1996 law he signed.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, considered a potential Republican challenger to Pryor in next year’s election, said he was disappointed in what he derided as the court’s “liberal activist” decision on DOMA.
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco officials and the city’s former mayor are claiming victory after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling left in place a trial court’s declaration that California‘s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Former Mayor Gavin Newsom said at City Hall after Wednesday’s ruling that San Francisco is a city of “doers” that not only tolerates diversity, but celebrates it every day. He called Wednesday a special day.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera called the ruling a great victory. He said people criticized the city in 2004, saying it was moving too fast in granting marriage licenses. But he said he believes the only way to get things done is to “kick down the door.”
Supporters say they are pushing for gay couples in California to be able to obtain marriage licenses within a matter of days, not weeks.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Wednesday that the only thing standing between gay Californians and marriage is an order from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Griffin says that it could take about a month for the appeals court to act. But he says gay marriage advocates are working with Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris to see if the process can be sped up.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the return of gay marriages in California by ruling that Proposition 8 sponsors lacked the authority to defend the ban in court once Brown and Harris refused to do so.
In a written statement, Malloy said he implores “every state to give full faith and credit to valid same-sex marriages” and that every Connecticut resident “deserves to have their marriage recognized as they travel among the states.”
WASHINGTON — The National Cathedral is pealing its church bells, along with some other Washington churches, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage.
Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg says the bells will ring at noon Wednesday for 45 minutes to an hour. Bells were also set to ring at other Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and other Christian churches.
In a statement, the cathedral’s dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, says the church is ringing its bells “to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants.”
Hall says the ruling should serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — While gay rights advocates are celebrating two Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriages, gay couples still won’t be able to marry in Florida.
Florida voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. It will take approval from 60 percent of voters to overturn it if the issue is put on the ballot again.
Still, gay rights advocates are hoping the Supreme Court’s decisions provide momentum to eventually overturn Florida‘s ban.
In 2006, 63 percent of Idaho voters backed a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal union recognized by the state.
Wasden says Idaho‘s constitutional provisions on marriage remain in place and he will continue enforcing the law. However, he said his staff is still reviewing the opinion to determine if the decision creates any conflicts.
State lawmakers declined to vote on gay marriage earlier this year.
INDIANAPOLIS — Gay marriage supporters in Indiana are celebrating a victory in Washington while girding for a possible battle at the Statehouse.
Indiana Equality Action President Chris Paulsen said Wednesday she’s uncertain whether state lawmakers will push a constitutional ban on gay marriage next session but that supporters are ready for a fight.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Gay married couples in Iowa celebrated a landmark Supreme Court ruling Monday that they said means same-sex couples finally will be able to realize benefits afforded to other married people.
Chris Patterson, who lives in West Des Moines with her married partner and two young children, said she felt relief and joy over the ruling.
“It was a long time coming and we both feel pretty amazing,” said Patterson, 41, who takes care of their kids. “I think it’s pretty amazing for my family and my kids and I think i t’s a step forward. I’m at loss for words.”
Between 2009 and 2011, about 1,500 same-sex couples from Iowa were married in the state, the third to offer gay marriage. More out-of-state couples have also wed in Iowa, one of 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have approved same-sex unions.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Gay-marriage supporters in Kansas were celebrating a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Wednesday as Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp vowed to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Kansas voters overwhelmingly adopted a constitutional amendment in 2005 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Rallies in celebration of the court rulings were planned across the state by the Kansas Equality Coalition, though the organization stressed that its fight wasn’t over.
“While this is a great day for many couples and families, Kansas and 36 other states still treat gay and lesbian Americans and their children as second-class citizens,” Tom Witt, the organization’s executive director, said in a written statement.
Huelskamp blasted the Supreme Court in a statement posted on his website and vowed to pursue a constitutional amendment.
“Five activist justices have short-circuited the democratic process,” he said, then added later: “This radical usurpation of legislative and popular authority will not end the debate over marriage in this country. Congress clearly must respond to these bad decisions.”
NEW ORLEANS — Supreme Court decisions wiping out part of a federal anti-gay marriage law and clearing the way for resumption of gay marriage in California were celebrated by gay rights activists in Louisiana.
The organization planned a celebration Wednesday in the French Quarter. Spokesman John Hill said members would meet with lawyers to determine how the action will affect Louisiana same-sex couples who wed in states where gay marriage is legal.
Rep. Steve Scalise, author of the Louisiana Constitution’s gay marriage ban is harshly critical of the decision affecting the federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling it “a low point in judicial activism.”
Attorney General Martha Coakley said the 5-4 decision by the high court will mean that same-sex couples in the Bay State will no longer be denied Social Security, medical benefits or other federal protections.
Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, and Coakley was the first attorney general to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act, though the Massachusetts case was not the one ultimately decided by the high court.
U.S. Sen.-elect Edward Markey also praised Wednesday’s ruling, saying the court stood with “the millions of voices across the nation calling for marriage equality.”
Schauer says in a statement that no one should face discrimination “based on who they love.”
Democratic-backed legislation in Lansing would change state law so legal same-sex marriages in other states are recognized in Michigan, giving gay couples the same state protections as heterosexual married couples.
If elected governor in 2014, Schauer says he’ll push stalled bills prohibiting discrimination against gays and work to repeal Michigan‘s gay marriage ban. Snyder had no immediate comment after the rulings.
MINNEAPOLIS — Many of those who fought to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota are rejoicing over a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that such couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
Democratic Rep. Steve Simon of Hopkins says the high court ruling Wednesday gives further legitimacy to the marriages of Minnesota gay couples when they begin Aug. 1.
Richard Carlbom, the strategist who led the campaign to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota, says the ruling is about more than benefits. Carlbom says the federal government is saying that gays are equal citizens under the law.
Democratic Rep. William Lacy of Missouri called the ruling a “historic turning point that advances full equality for all.”
Meanwhile, the Missouri Family Policy Council says it’s pleased. The conservative Christian interest group says it’s “most grateful to God that states like Missouri will be able to continue to defend and uphold the sacred institution of marriage as God designed it.”
The decision did not alter Montana‘s constitutional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman or directly affect any of the state’s laws.
But advocates suing the state to establish a registry of domestic partnerships for same sex couples say much of the reasoning in the high court case will buoy their arguments.
The U.S. Supreme Court‘s ruling on Wednesday had no direct impact on Nebraska‘s amendment, which voters approved with 70 percent support in 2000. But same-sex marriage supporters say they may push to repeal it.
Shelley Kiel, president of the Omaha-based Citizens for Equal Protection, says the court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act coincides with a growing acceptance of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Dave Bydalek, executive director of the Lincoln-based Family First, says the nation’s views may have shifted on gay marriage, but he still believes most Nebraskans want to preserve traditional, heterosexual marriages.
CARSON CITY, Nev. — A pair of decisions made more than 2,500 miles from Nevada‘s capital could have a significant impact when state lawmakers reconvene in two years.
Lawmakers and voters in Nevada are considering a measure that would allow for same-sex marriage in the Silver State. Legislators approved SJR13 this session, but must pass it a second time in 2015 and get voter approval before it can become law.
Bob Fulkerson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada says the rulings Wednesday and the resulting momentum guarantee the measure’s victory in 2016.
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan says the Supreme Court’s ruling that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples will make a real difference in the lives of families who have been denied federal benefits, forced to pay higher taxes and treated as less than equal.
Hassan said Wednesday the American mission has always been to move forward, to build a brighter future by fully including all of the people in our society. She said the high court’s ruling represents a historic step forward in that never-ending missing.
Gay rights groups in New Jersey say the U.S. Supreme Court‘s ruling striking down a provision of a federal ban on recognizing gay marriage will help their push for New Jersey to recognize same-sex unions.
Seven gay couples and several of their children are suing, claiming the civil unions are discriminatory because they’re not widely understood and create a separate-but-equal relationship status for gays.
The group is helping two same-sex couples with lawsuits, which aim to have the New Mexico Supreme Court decide if same-sex marriages are allowed under the state constitution. A Santa Fe couple also is suing to get the state to recognize gay marriage.
The state does not yet permit same-sex couples to marry but New Mexico does not bar recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples who legally married in another place.
FARGO, N.D. — A gay couple from Fargo planning to get married in Minnesota this summer is celebrating a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that should provide federal benefits for legally married same-sex couples.
Fargo’s Lenny Tweeden, who plans to marry Wayne Rosell in August, calls the ruling a victory, but says he’s “not expecting a difference” in attitudes among most state residents.
Christopher Dodson, a spokesman for the North Dakota Catholic Conference, says the ruling is part of a “trend we’re concerned about,” but says the state law is on solid legal footing.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt says the court’s decision confirmed individual states still get to decide how to define marriage, not the federal government. But legal experts say the law allows same-sex couples in Oklahoma who were legally married in other states to now be entitled to federal benefits.
Jeana Frazzini, leader of Basic Rights Oregon, has organized a campaign to get a measure on the ballot next year to reverse the ban. She says Oregon could be the only state with such a measure in 2014 – putting the state in the spotlight.
Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a statement calling the decisions “a proud moment for the nation” and saying they emphasize what he called “the urgency of extending the freedom to marry to all our citizens.”
Backers of Measure 36 from the Oregon Family Council didn’t have immediate comment.
City Councilman Bruce Kraus told the crowd Wednesday morning, “To my fellow gay, lesbian, transsexual and queer friends, welcome to full equality.”
City police have issued a permit for Wednesday’s rally on Liberty Avenue, during which a portion of the busy downtown artery was to remain closed from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh organized the rally, which was called “Riot or Rejoice.”
Gov. Lincoln Chafee called the Wednesday’s ruling a “significant victory and no small step forward for our country.”
South Carolina Equality and other gay rights organizations plan to march in downtown Columbia at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The groups plan to march to the Statehouse and then up Main Street to Columbia City Hall.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is calling the U.S. Supreme Court‘s rulings on same-sex marriage a historic victory for gay and lesbian Americans and a tremendous step forward for equality.
But Jana Kooren says the decisions don’t affect South Dakota‘s ban on same sex marriage, which began with a 1996 state law and was reiterated in the state constitution by voters in 2006.
Kooren says the DOMA ruling will apply to same-sex couples living in South Dakota who were married elsewhere, but she says access to the full range of federal marital protections will take some work and time to achieve.
Julia Tate was watching coverage of the court decisions with Lisa McMillan on Wednesday morning at their home. Asked whether she were disappointed the court did not go further in its ruling that the federal government must provide benefits to gay couples in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Tate said it was wise of the court to be cautious.
State Sen. Jim Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican who is running for Congress, said “detrimental forces” won in the rulings.
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat, said equality under the law should apply to all.
HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian whose partner held a family Bible for her in 2010 when she was sworn in, welcomes a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, but says the “fight is not over.”
Parker’s election in 2009 made Houston the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor.
Parker says the 5-4 decision is “a huge step forward, but this fight is not over.” She says in a statement she hopes the ruling will lead to greater acceptance and tolerance, and “ultimately to full equality.”
SALT LAKE CITY — Challengers of Utah‘s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage are celebrating Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a provision of a federal law denying benefits to married gay couples.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, meanwhile, says he will continue to defend Utah‘s constitutional definition of marriage being exclusively between a man and woman. He says he hopes a balance can be struck to uphold traditional marriage while preventing discrimination.
An attorney representing three gay and lesbian couples in Utah says they will cite the Supreme court ruling in their challenge of Utah‘s law. The case had been put on hold pending a ruling from the Supreme Court.
Utah gay rights groups are holding a news conference Wednesday morning to celebrate. Conservative and religious groups are organizing a “celebration of traditional marriage” in a Salt Lake City suburb Wednesday evening.
Susan Murray was a lawyer for three couples who won a landmark ruling from the state Supreme Court saying that barring them from marrying violated the Vermont Constitution. That led the Legislature to pass the nation’s first civil unions law in 2000.
In 2009, Vermont became the first state to legislate full marriage for same-sex couples without prompting by a court.
Murray says she’s proud of Vermont‘s role in the movement. She also says there’s more work to do. She notes that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that allows states to continue to bar same-sex marriage.
Victoria Cobb of the conservative Family Foundation said she was disappointed the federal law was struck down. But she noted that Virginia‘s prohibition stands.
The state also doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages granted elsewhere, and Wednesday’s decisions don’t affect that either.
House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said fellow Republicans will continue efforts to add the state’s definition of marriage to its constitution. The Kanawha County lawyer believes most West Virginians would vote for that amendment.
Delegate Stephen Skinner believes the rulings highlight the inequality faced by the estimated 57,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender West Virginians. Skinner’s working to change that. The Jefferson County Democrat and lawyer is also the Legislature’s first openly gay member.
MADISON, Wis. — Civil liberties advocates say a U.S. Supreme Court decision granting benefits to same-sex couples could bolster arguments supporting Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry.
The conservative group Wisconsin Family Action is challenging the registry in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, saying it violates Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Larry Dupuis, an attorney for the Wisconsin American Civil Liberties Union, says the California decision is tailored to that state but the benefits ruling strengthens arguments for Wisconsin’s registry.
Republicans say the rulings reaffirmed states’ ability to set gay marriage policy as they wish.
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