Breaking News

National News

June 26, 2013

Gay rights supporters erupt in cheers over ruling

WASHINGTON — Supporters of same-sex marriage burst into cheers, wept openly and chanted “DOMA is Dead” outside the Supreme Court as word reached them that the justices had struck down the federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Some in the crowd hugged and others jumped up and down just after 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday when the decision was announced inside. Many were on their cell phones monitoring Twitter, news sites and blogs for the outcome. There were cheers as runners came down the steps with the ruling in hand and turned them over to reporters who quickly flipped through the pages.

Sarah Prager, 26, cried and shook, and hugged a stranger. Prager, who married her wife in Massachusetts in 2011, said she was in shock. “Oh that’s so good. It’s just really good,” she said.

“I didn’t expect DOMA to be struck down,” Prager said through tears. She referred to the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Gay rights activists had argued that the law improperly denied same-sex spouses the federal benefits that heterosexual couples are granted, and the justices agreed.

Inside, the reaction was subdued.

Many of the spectators had stood in line for hours to get a seat in the packed courtroom, some even camping out overnight. Before the justices took the bench, the crowd was admonished to stay silent, and they kept quiet. As Justice Anthony Kennedy read through a summary of the decision, it became clear that the court was throwing out the federal law, and a few smiles broke out across the audience. One relieved-looking lawyer blinked back her tears.

Justice Antonin Scalia followed with his own scalding dissent, ridiculing justices in the majority for what he termed “self-aggrandizement” and demonization of anyone who opposed gay marriage as an “enemy of human decency.” The other justices mostly stared ahead as he spoke.

As soon as Scalia finished, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that Scalia would be reading again, announcing the majority opinion in an unrelated case.

“I’m sorry about that — but this is shorter,” Scalia said quickly, to laughter throughout the room, before launching into a case involving a Massachusetts extortion conviction obviously of less intense interest to the crowd.

Lastly, Roberts read the court’s second gay marriage decision, a narrow ruling overturning a California proposition that banned same-sex marriage. It allows the marriages to resume there but doesn’t affect other states.

The expectant mood inside quickly deflated under the legalistic wording of the California decision. But when the plaintiffs in that case walked down the court’s marble steps with their lawyer afterward they were met with chants of “Thank you” and “USA.”

The crowd outside filled the sidewalk and spilled across the street. The vast majority were champions of gay marriage, though there was at least one person who held a sign in favor of traditional marriage. Much of the crowd waved American flags and rainbow flags and carried signs including “I (heart) my wife” and “Equality is an American value!” One man carried a closet door that towered above his head and said in part: “No more shut doors.”

Lawyer David Boies, who joined with Ted Olson in urging the court to overturn Proposition 8, said outside the court that the country is closer to “true equality.”

“Our plaintiffs now can go back to California and together with every other citizen of California marry the person they love,” Boies told reporters.

Both couples who had challenged the law said it was a good day. Sandy Stier, who held hands with her partner Kris Perry, said she was thankful the justices will let them marry, “but that’s not enough,” she said, “It’s got to go nationwide.”

Paul Katami, another plaintiff in the case, stood before reporters outside the court and became choked up as he looked at his partner, Jeff Zarrillo.

“Today I finally get to look at the man that I love and finally say: Will you please marry me?”

The pair kissed.

1
Text Only
National News
  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014

  • A bipolar doctor probes the brain on 'Black Box’

    ABC’s brainy new medical drama “Black Box” does a neat trick: It dares viewers to imagine for themselves the cost-benefit ratio of addiction, and does it without taking a firm stand.

    April 22, 2014

  • Courthouse violence unpredictable despite security

    When Utah’s new federal courthouse opened last week, it came with security improvements that are becoming standard around the country: separate entrances and elevators for judges, defendants and the public; bullet-resistant glass and paneling; and vehicle barricades to keep car bombs at bay.

    April 22, 2014

  • Lucey is tops in Iowa’s ‘Beautiful Bulldog’ event

    Lucey is a slobbering 18-month-old pooch whose human family dreams of making her a therapy dog.

    April 22, 2014

  • Cuban-American leaders helped ’Cuban Twitter’

    Leaders with the largest nonprofit organization for young Cuban-Americans quietly provided strategic support for the federal government’s secret “Cuban Twitter” program, connecting contractors with potential investors and even serving as paid consultants, The Associated Press has learned.

    April 22, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

    April 22, 2014

  • Apple offering free recycling of all used products

    Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.

    April 21, 2014

  • UAW drops appeal of defeat in Volkswagen vote

    The United Auto Workers dropped its appeal of a worker vote against unionizing at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, a move that the union said should put pressure on Republican politicians to quickly approve incentives the German automaker is seeking to expand its lone U.S. assembly plant.

    April 21, 2014

  • In show of defiance, 32,000 run Boston Marathon

    Some ran to honor the dead and wounded. Others were out to prove something to the world about their sport, the city or their country. And some wanted to prove something to themselves.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 21, 2014