Gay marriage case couples bask in glory on Supreme Court steps

Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:41pm EDT
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By Joseph Ax

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The two same-sex couples who challenged California's ban on gay marriage stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, their hands raised in triumph.

Although the court stopped short of declaring same-sex marriage to be a national right, there was little question that the hundreds of supporters gathered in front of the white marble courthouse viewed the plaintiffs as victors.

"Thank you! Thank you!" chanted the crowd during a hot and muggy day in the U.S. capital.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, let stand a lower-court ruling striking down California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The court also threw out the core of a U.S. law giving federal benefits only to heterosexual married couples.

Outside the courthouse, the raucous crowd of gay marriage supporters brandished signs, sang songs and waved rainbow flags. They called the rulings historic, even as they acknowledged that their goal of legalizing gay marriage nationally had yet to be achieved.

"There may be potholes on the road to equality, but it's a one-way street," said John Becker, 28, who traveled to Canada in 2006 from his home in Wisconsin so he could marry his husband. "To go from having to leave the country to get married, in seven years, to the steps of the Supreme Court to have the court recognize what's in our hearts - it can't be overstated."

Former U.S. Representative Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, said he had been pessimistic for years about the prospects for same-sex marriage nationwide. But the rapid progress made by gay marriage supporters in recent years has left him far more hopeful.

"We're a big step closer to being a country that lives up to its founding ideals," Frank said, as people posed for pictures with him.   Continued...