NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Supreme Court has made two historic decisions regarding same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, the justices ruled that the federal law know as the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies benefits to married gay couples, is unconstitutional.
The high court also sent California’s Proposition 8 back to a state court, which ruled it unconstitutional. It is a major victory for gay rights in the U.S. and it has sparked quite the celebration in New Orleans.
The celebrating didn’t stop after the rally Wednesday afternoon in Jackson Square. The excitement quickly poured over to Bourbon Street on the historic day.
It was all smiles as dozens of people gathered in Jackson Square to celebrate a monumental day for gay rights, and for some it was a day they never thought they would see.
“I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime, but now I think I have the opportunity to get married sooner than later,” said John Hill, the chairman for the Forum for Equality.
Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples federal benefits in the 12 states where it is legal to get married.
It is a fight that Ryan Delaney is all too familiar with at his law firm, Delaney and Robb Attorneys at Law, which is a first of its kind.
“We are the first firm in Louisiana to actually focus our practice on serving the legal needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or LGBT clients, mainly in the area of family law and estate planning,” said Delaney.
Delaney calls the ruling a moral victory, even though the Supreme Court decision will not directly affect same-sex couples in Louisiana.
“It still poses the importance of having wills done, especially powers of attorneys,” said Delaney. “Especially if your partner gets sick. You want your partner to be the one to make the decisions for you.”
Many at the rally agree, saying this has set the stage for equality everywhere for all same-sex couples.
“It’s the first step towards what will ultimately be the dismantling of all legalized discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Executive Director of the Louisiana ACLU Marjorie Esman.
“We are all very proud people, we are just people, we are just normal people,” said Hill at Wednesday’s rally. “We don’t want any special rights, we just want equal rights.”
But many are hopefully, like Hill, that change is on its way here in Louisiana.
“54 percent of people in Louisiana now favor either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, so the tide is turning right here in Louisiana,” said Hill.
Now, the big question is how will this law be applied, especially for sex-same couples who get married and then move to states like Louisiana where same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Many believe it is a challenging task President Obama will ultimately have to tackle.