Jubilation, tears for California couples after gay marriage ruling

Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:58pm EDT
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By Sharon Bernstein and Ronnie Cohen

(Reuters) - The morning routine at Erin Lindsay and Samantha Westcott's house in the leafy Los Angeles suburb of Sierra Madre was well under way on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court issued its widely anticipated rulings on same-sex marriage.

Shortly before the expected 7 a.m. announcement, Wescott, 45, had already dashed off to work, and their daughter, Anneliese, age 9, was getting ready for summer camp.

Thirteen-year-old Sophie dashed into the bedroom where Lindsay was getting dressed and asked: "Have you heard yet, Mama? It's 6:57."

Minutes later, the court handed down its opinions: The Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits and filing joint tax returns, was declared unconstitutional. And the high court let stand a lower-court decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex marriage in the most populous U.S. state.

Lindsay, 49, who married Wescott during a brief window in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state, burst into tears. Fearing Sophie might misunderstand, she quickly gave her daughter a high-five to make it absolutely clear: their world had changed for the better.

Congratulations and cheers from well-wishers immediately flooded Lindsay's email inbox. Her cellphone rang as she tried to get her kids dressed and to camp.

She said the most immediate effect of the ruling would be on to taxes and Social Security - two areas of life where she and her spouse now enjoyed parity with all other married couples.

"For the last several years we had to do my taxes and Sam's taxes independently - then we had to redo them as a married couple for the state of California," she said.   Continued...

(From L) Rachel Wald, Kate Lummus, Virginia Sin and Gretchen Menter watch coverage of the the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, at the Stonewall Inn in New York June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid