The Main Stream

Jun 26, 2013 8:20 PM by Rebecca Taylor

DOMA ruled unconstitutional, how this could impact Arizonans

TUCSON - After a historic decision, cheers erupted outside the U.S. Supreme court.

A five to four vote from the highest court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

This means, the federal government must now recognize same sex marriages deemed legal by the states.

Same-sex couples in all states, with legal gay marriage can now get federal benefits.

President Obama took to Twitter after the decision calling the ruling, a historic step forward for marriage equality.

The vote also allows same-sex marriages in California to resume.

The decision has many people talking.

With recent civil union victories in Bisbee and Tucson supporters of same-sex rights in Southern Arizonan see the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act as a huge step forward in the right direction.

Tucson couple Thom Melendez and Brian Bateman have been together for 18 years.

"There's a lot more questions than answers with the decision today," says Bateman, "What we're grateful for is a move ahead."

In 2003 when the City of Tucson approved domestic partnerships they were among the first to take that step.

They say Wednesday's ruling makes them feel like the U.S. Constitution finally applies to them.

They also caution that with only 12 states where gay marriage is recognized the fight for equal rights isn't over.

"I think of people in the military, there are two or three bases in Arizona and now that Don't Ask Don't Tell has been removed, and now DOMA, folks who get married, who are married who are in the military are going to be transferred to Arizona," says Melendez, "The federal government's going to have to deal with those situations."

According to Wingspan many federal employees in Arizona including gay service men and women could soon receive full benefits, just as their straight counterparts are currently supported.

Their ultimate goal is equality for all.

Carol Grimsby is the Executive Director of Wingspan.

She says, "My high hopes are that Arizona will also change, and that the Supreme Court has spoken and that Arizona will change and be like-minded."

Barbara Atwood, law professor at the University of Arizona says the ruling will have a worldwide impact.

"A colleague of mine who works in England, and represents people who are immigrating to the US, she helps single people and couples. She says she got a call early this morning in London from someone who heard about the decision, because it will have a direct impact on Immigration policy," says Atwood, "Because spouses of American citizens have special immigration status, So right away we're seeing people all over the world looking and taking notice."

Atwood says there's no time-table for when access to marriage protections for same sex couples could kick in.

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