Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:37 AM
Published on: Friday, July 05, 2013
By Nicole Jones
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision to strike down Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act on June 26 was another step toward equality for same-sex couples.
The 13 states and Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal, will now allow couples to have the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
“In Maryland, same-sex married couples will now be eligible for the more than 1,000 federal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of EqualityMaryland.
The Supreme Court ruling received support from local residents and officials.
“I think it is reasonable because gays are being accepted by more people,” said Shi Yueya, of College Park.
Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi has been supportive of same-sex couples for more than four decades. The church held its first legal same-sex wedding in April.
“Our congregation was thrilled with a decision that extends benefits to same-sex couples, and I hope it paves the way for equality in other states,” said the Rev. Diane Teichert, minister of Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church.
The Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP has also been a supporter of same-sex couples. It publicly endorsed Question 6, which granted same-sex couples the right to marry in Maryland, during the 2012 election.
“The decision affirms what we have already done here in Maryland, we are glad this is behind us and now we are turning all of our energy to the Voting Rights Act,” said Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Bu, others did not agree as much with the court’s decision.
“I believe this decision was based on the climate of our culture. We are increasingly moving into a direction as a country that places as a priority our desires and not our needs,” said the Rev. Everett Pope, minister of United Baptist Church.
Gov. Martin O’Malley released a statement June 26 shortly after the decision was announced.
“This ruling is a powerful step forward for those who live in states like Maryland. But the (Supreme) Court’s decisions make clear that there is still more work to do as a nation to achieve greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all,” O’Malley said.