Historic Gay Rights Vote Stirs Emotions Nationally - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Historic Gay Rights Vote Stirs Emotions Nationally

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Some snapshots of Americans reacting to Friday's Supreme Court ruling declaring that same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states.

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TEXAS

Customers at a Dallas comic-book store were confronted by a sign Friday warning that the business might open late because the owners were "waiting at the courthouse to see if the Supreme Court is going to let us get married."

Kenneth Denson, 38, and Gabriel Mendez, 33, have been together for 15 years.

They had a nonbinding commitment ceremony 10 years ago in Dallas, and they were legally married in 2013 in California, but they still wanted to do the same in Texas.

"We're Texans," Denson said. "We want to get married in Texas."

They were married Friday afternoon, giving each other a high-five as a judge signed their marriage certificate.

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a memo saying the government should not pressure people to violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs." He later clarified that he does not condone discrimination or authorize state agencies to deny benefits to same-sex couples.

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CALIFORNIA

The celebration began early and built throughout the day in San Francisco, a city at the vanguard of the fight for gay rights.

Workers draped a giant rainbow flag over the front door of City Hall, where then-Mayor Gavin Newsom ignited a legal challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban 11 years ago by ordering clerks to marry a gay couple in defiance of state law.

The California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2013 after several legal setbacks, including the passage of Proposition 8, which briefly banned same-sex weddings in the state.

Newsom, who is now California's lieutenant governor, reminisced at a news conference about that Valentine's Day when he hoped that his action would spark a legal challenge.

"We were hoping to humanize the issue," Newsom said of the first marriage performed at City Hall on Feb. 14, 2004.

Newsom said he's couldn't imagine then that gay marriage would be legalized nationwide.

"I'd like to say I expected this day," he said. "I didn't. We hit a lot of rough patches along the way."

A small number of same-sex marriage opponents protested the Supreme Court decision by unfurling a banner on a freeway overpass across the San Francisco Bay in Berkeley.

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ARKANSAS

The judge who struck down Arkansas' gay-marriage ban last year presided Friday over one of the state's first same-sex weddings after the Supreme Court's historic ruling.

Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza married two men in a brief ceremony in his Little Rock courtroom. He said it was the only same-sex wedding he planned to conduct.

"I looked at their faces and realized how much this meant to them," Piazza said.

The couple, Tony Chiaro, 73, and Earnie Matheson, 65, have been together 26 years. They said they sought out Piazza because of his ruling last year.

"We could have gone off and done it somewhere else ... but it meant so much to do it here," Matheson said.

The Supreme Court's ruling comes a little over a year after Piazza struck down a 2004 voter-approved amendment and an earlier state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

More than 500 couples were married in the week following Piazza's ruling before it was suspended by the state Supreme Court pending a review.

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LOUISIANA

Louisiana has been at the forefront of efforts to oppose same-sex marriages, and the Catholic bishop of Lafayette carried on with those efforts Friday.

Bishop Michael Jarrell issued a statement calling on Catholics to not attend same-sex weddings, saying "civil disobedience may be a proper response" in some cases.

Jarrell said the ruling leaves Catholics who perform official duties with "conscience problems."

The bishop also said Catholic properties could not be "used for the solemnization of same-sex marriage."

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican running for the White House, called the ruling overreach by the Supreme Court.

"Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that," Jindal said. "If we want to save some money let's just get rid of the court."

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MINNESOTA

Friday's ruling was a bittersweet victory for Richard Carlbom, who led efforts to defeat a Minnesota gay marriage ban in 2012 and then legalize it in 2013 before becoming director of state campaigns for Freedom to Marry.

"I have three months to wind down my work. The organization will probably close our doors in six to 12 months," Carlbom said. "Isn't it wonderful when a nonprofit organization has to go out of business?"

Carlbom married in 2013 and had to deal with uncertainty while traveling and when his husband began graduate school in Ohio, where his marriage wasn't recognized.

"If something happens to me, he's not my spouse in the eyes of Ohio," he said. "I'm a 33-year-old married man whose parents would have to be called in to help make medical decisions. The court recognized that today."

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KENTUCKY

Timothy Love was at the head of the line in Louisville, Kentucky, to obtain a marriage license with his partner of 35 years.

When the paperwork was completed, cheers went up as Love and Larry Ysunza walked out of the county clerk's office with the license they had been denied in the past. Love was the lead plaintiff in the case that led a federal judge in Kentucky to strike down the state's ban on gay marriage - a precursor to Friday's ruling by the Supreme Court.

"I think we have set an example in our 35 years of how a couple should stick together," Love said.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told the state's county clerks to immediately issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe," Beshear said Friday in a letter. "But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act."

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IOWA

Legalizing gay marriage in Iowa carried a heavy cost for three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court who were booted off the bench in a subsequent judicial retention election.

Former justices Michael Streit and David Baker reflected Friday about their role in advancing same-sex marriage.

Iowa's decision "caused people to pause and take a serious look at this legal issue, and as a result all of this has evolved," Streit said. "I'm proud of what we did, and I'm happy with what the U.S. Supreme Court did today."

Baker said: "All I can say is that it shows the importance of an independent judiciary who is committed to upholding our Constitution."

Organizations opposing gay marriage spent $1 million on advertising urging voters to oust Streit and Baker and then-Chief Justice Marsha Ternus.

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MICHIGAN

A judge whose decision to overturn Michigan's ban on gay marriage was embraced by the Supreme Court said he's willing to officiate at the marriage of two nurses at the center of the historic case.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he was in his car Friday when he got a call from another judge, Judith Levy, who is a lesbian and formerly served as his law clerk.

"She yelled, 'We won!'" Friedman told The Associated Press. "Tears came to my eyes. ... It's fantastic."

April DeBoer said she and Jayne Rowse would like Friedman to marry them, probably in late summer or early fall.

It was Friedman who suggested that Rowse and DeBoer challenge a 2004 Michigan constitutional amendment that recognized marriage only as between a man and a woman.

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