Following Wednesday morning's news that the federal Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, Massachusetts legislators and gay rights advocates spoke out about what it means for the progression of civil rights in the U.S.
Gov. Deval Patrick: “By affirming the principle that people come before their government as equals, today's Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA is a win for the American people. I applaud the court's decision on Prop 8 in California as well. Freedom includes keeping government out of people’s most personal and intimate choices, and affirming human dignity. Today's decisions do that.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: “Today is a great day for all of our people. Marriage equality first played out right here in Boston and like the many firsts Boston has championed it has proven to be the right path forward for a more open, inclusive America, where everyone is welcome to love, pray and believe however they choose. I am grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense Against Marriage Act. It gives our many employees and residents the rights of other married couples and more importantly recognizes that their love is no different.
"In the weeks and months ahead, the nation will realize what we in Boston and Massachusetts have long known: We should be free to marry the person we love. We are one Boston – a victory for our gay and lesbian friends is a victory for all of us. Today, I am proud that our highest court upheld the values and laws that underscore our belief that diversity is the great strength of our city and our country. And I am so proud of my many friends and neighbors who fought for this ruling.
"Even as we celebrate today’s decision, we must remember the millions of gay and lesbian couples who still cannot get married. While there is more work to be done, today is a signal to the rest of the country that full equality is coming.”
Linda DeMarco, president of Boston Pride: "With the decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has affirmed that members of the LGBT community are not to be considered second-class citizens in their relationships. We are grateful for the courage and hard work of those who have sought to make today happen — the pioneers in our own community here in Boston and in Massachusetts, the birthplace of marriage equality in the United States. We celebrate today with all who have supported our right to love who we want and to enter into committed relationships with our partners. The court also returned the Prop 8 decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that same-sex marriage will be once again legal in that state, but we know that the work in California continues to ensure that members of our community have the right to marry. We stand with our community there, and offer our support."
Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley: “This ruling is a victory for equality and civil rights for all. By striking down DOMA, the highest court has ensured that married same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law. Thousands of families throughout Massachusetts and the nation will no longer be denied social security, medical benefits or other fundamental protections simply because of who they love.
I am proud of Massachusetts’ leadership on this important issue that will have a direct impact on so many people’s lives. The institution of marriage is only strengthened when we embrace marriage equality. Today’s decision is another major step on the march toward equality for all.”
Lee Swislow, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders executive director: “The court has removed the stain and the insult that is DOMA. This is an enormous victory and a joyous day for loving, married couples and their families – and for thousands of couples in California who will now be able to express their commitment through marriage.”
“Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that there should be no gay exception in how the federal government regarding marriage. If you are married, you are married,” said Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for GLAD, and lead counsel in the 2003 Massachusetts case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, of the court’s ruling against DOMA. “Married couples now come before the federal government as equals.”
Paul Guzzi, president and CEO of the Chamber: “The Greater Boston Chamber welcomes today’s Supreme Court decision striking down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act. We have long held the position that this law penalizes both same-sex couples and the business community, forcing many businesses to comply with costly and inconsistent legal requirements at the federal level, and hurting talent retention and recruitment. As one of the parties to an amicus brief filed in this case, we are very pleased that the court has decided to eliminate the economic and human inequalities created by DOMA.”
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini:
“This is a great day for our Commonwealth and our country as we move closer to equality for all people. In Massachusetts, we've celebrated marriage equality for nine years, and we know that families are healthier and communities are stronger when everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Today's DOMA ruling does just that by affirming that all who choose to legally marry come before their government as equals. We are also excited that the Supreme Court’s decision in Prop 8 effectively restores marriage equality in California. While there is still more work to do to ensure equality and justice for all LGBTQ people, these decisions are historic steps forward, and today is a great day for America. As momentum for marriage equality continues to build, MassEquality looks forward to the day when all states can join Massachusetts in enjoying the freedom to marry.”