NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Crowds rallied in the West Village on Wednesday, celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a provision of a federal law that denied federal benefits to gay married couples.
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where a riot in 1969 sparked the gay rights movement, erupted in cheers and whooping when the court issued the 5-4 ruling finding a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Outside the Stonewall Tavern on Christopher Street – the very place where patrons rioted against a police raid and sparked the modern gay rights movement 44 years ago this Friday – the crowd went wild when DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor came to the microphone.
“Because of today’s Supreme Court ruling, the federal government can no longer discriminate against the marriages of gay and lesbian (couples),” she said.
As 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported, many said Windsor was an inspiration, and this was a day for history.
Ashley Louise and her girlfriend, Danielle Gerson, cried and passed a bottle of champagne. Louise said she felt like “a first-class citizen” now.
Mary Jo Kennedy, 58, was there with her wife, Jo-Ann Shain, 60, and their daughter, Aliya Shain, 25.
She came with a sign that could be flipped either way and was holding up the side that says “SCOTUS made our family legal”.
The DOMA provision kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits that go to married couples of the opposite sex.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, Cathy and Sheila Marino-Thomas were cheering in relief following decision. They married in Massachusetts in 2004, and have a 13-year-old daughter.
“It means tremendous that we are now equal. Equality — my family has fought for equality from the Civil Rights Movement. And now this civil rights movement, my family again is fighting for equality and they’ve won,” Sheila Marino-Thomas said.
Michael and Robert Sabatino got married in Canada 35 years ago, but have always lived in the U.S.
“It means that I am finally considered a citizen in this country,” Michael Sabatino said. “I have equal rights and I am protected under the Constitution. I was not before.”
Now, they are relieved that their marriage will be recognized by the U.S. government.
“It also sends a message to people who are not tolerant of us that we need to be respected as citizens,” Robert Sabatino said. “That we’re no different than any other citizen, and we’re equal.”
Also Wednesday evening, same-sex couples from multiple states rushed to the New York City clerk’s office to get their marriage licenses, according to a published report.