With the release of two decisions that legitimized same-sex marriage, the court set off a day of powerful personal emotions. Opponents of gay marriage expressed deep disappointment. But for supporters, Wednesday was cemented as a milestone of gay civil rights progress — a rainbow-hued repeat of the night 41
2 years ago when Barack Obama made history for black Americans.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day,” Raul Fabela said outside the Supreme Court, echoing the words of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Nov. 5, 2008. “I have so many friends that have passed on, and I wish they’d lived for this moment,” he said, his voice breaking. “This is the America we know.”
On both coasts of that America, in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., elated gay couples and supporters embraced, wept, celebrated, chanted victory slogans and savored the moment. They waved rainbow flags in the humid air outside the court and took shelter from the sun under rainbow umbrellas as a few opponents of gay marriage trickled away.
In New York, Edie Windsor, the 83-year-old woman who brought the case against the Defense of Marriage Act, called for a party at the Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar where gays fought a police raid 44 years ago Thursday, sparking three days of riots and the drive for equal rights.
“It’s an exciting day for civil rights in America. I am a significant step closer to being an equal citizen under the law,” Mark Strohbehn, 28, of Iowa said outside the Supreme Court.
Critics of the rulings also spoke of hope. “We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country — a country that was founded on biblical principles,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association. “We mourn for America’s future, but we are not without hope.”
“Marriage is resilient,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We’re the people who believe marriage was designed by God, embedded in nature, and it can’t be raptured away by the Supreme Court or a change in culture.”
Moore said he is telling people in his church that they should express their convictions without anger. “Our gay and lesbian neighbors are not our enemies,” he said. “We ought to treat everyone around us with dignity, and seek to persuade them why we see marriage as a one-flesh marriage between a man and woman, rather than vent outrage. And I think that’s where most people in the evangelical community are.”