Louisville same sex couples celebrate DOMA ruling - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville same sex couples celebrate DOMA ruling

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Mark England and husband Michael Handley have been together nine years. Mark England and husband Michael Handley have been together nine years.
Patti Echsner and Bette Niemi Patti Echsner and Bette Niemi
Greg Bryant and John Jameson Greg Bryant and John Jameson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Under the Defense of Marriage Act, gay and lesbian couples were not entitled to pension and social security benefits or family medical leave provisions. In Kentucky and Indiana they still aren't.

But even though gay and lesbian couples understand there is still a long way to go, tomorrow's battle did not diminish their excitement Wednesday night over the Supreme Court's historic decision.

At parties around the nation and here in Louisville, champaign corks were popping Wednesday night. At one Down with DOMA party, guests said their loved ones hearts and minds had already changed, now they said, progress is being made far outside their circles.

"I think the statement was, 'we cannot tolerate discrimination against anyone in this country,' that's a huge step forward," said party guest Patti Echsner. 

Echsner and her wife Bette Niemi are both lawyers were like two other longtime Louisville couples were recently wed in New York.

"We've been together almost 21 years," Echsner said. The two lawyers understand the importance of the decision from a legal standpoint with taxes and health and pension benefits, but on a personal level after two decades together?

"To see the Supreme Court legitimize our relationship and who we are is pretty special," she said.

Mark England and husband Michael Handley have been together nine years.

England said, "When Michael and I got married in December we felt confident this day would come."

And for Greg Bryant and John Jameson, also together nine years, it's simple, "Finally," Bryant said of the ruling. Jameson said for him it's two words, "Dignity and respect," he stated, "We will live our lives with the dignity and respect every other citizen expects from paying their taxes."

But right around the corner from the party, there is no celebration.

"It's going to be a great challenge for us all," said Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Dr. Albert Mohler. Mohler calls the DOMA decision devastating for the country, primarily the demand to redefine marriage.

"Even though marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman in human history until very, very recently," he said," The first country to legalize same sex marriage in the history of the world was the Netherlands in 2000 and that's just 13 years ago, so we're talking about a huge moral revolution here, not merely a legal revolution."

Back at the party, it's was a good night, but they realize a fight still waits in the Commonwealth where their unions still aren't legal. With 13 states recognizing gay marriage, the couples do have the option of moving, but hope they won't have to.  Echsner said, "We hope Kentucky will be the next one and will keep fighting for that kind of justice."

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