SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Supporters of same-sex marriage across the country and right here in western Massachusetts are celebrating two major victories in a pair of Supreme Court rulings issued Wednesday morning.
The court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act; ruling that legally-married same-sex couples should have the same rights as legally-married heterosexual couples. A separate ruling effectively struck-down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in that state.
Crowds were jubilant outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, and in San Francisco, where same-sex weddings could resume as soon as a matter of days.
Locally, people who have been fighting for LGBT rights expressed joy and optimism about the court's decisions. Former Springfield City Councilor Amaad Rivera, the first openly gay person to have served on the Council, told 22News that for him, the ruling was unbelievable.
"I think words truly can't describe the idea of finally being treated equally before the law. I'm proud that my country finally saw me in that way," Rivera said.
For Massachusetts same-sex married couples (and couples in the 11 other states where same-sex marriage is legal), the ruling means that the federal government cannot deny them benefits.
A huge rally is planned at Cambridge City Hall early Wednesday evening. The first legal same-sex marriages in the country happened there in 2004, following a landmark ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.