Two major victories for gay rights Wednesday as the Supreme Court struck down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act and ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
Same sex marriage is legal again in California. The justices, by a 5-to-4 vote, let a lower court ruling stand that deemed Prop 8 unconstitutional, but did not address marriage rights in that or other states.
Every same-sex married couples benefit from the court's other ruling: the Defense of Marriage Act, blocking federal marriage benefits to same-sex spouses, is unconstitutional.
For the 5-4 majority, Justice Kennedy said DOMA "demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects ... and it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."
84-year-old Edie Windsor is the one who sued. When her spouse, Thea, died, Edie was forced to pay federal taxes on inheritance as if they weren't married.
Now, Edie gets a refund and a place in history. Wednesday, Edie said the ruling "makes me feel incredibly proud and humble."
Back at the court, conservatives and evangelicals were upset. Representative Tim Huelskamp, (R) Kansas, said the Supreme Court's ruling was "a radical attempt to redefine marriage," while Reverend Rob Schenck, the chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, said, "The Supreme Court has no authority when comes to the nature of marriage. That authority belongs to the creator."
Nearby, the California couples who were the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Proposition 8 got a call from President Obama.
The President said, "We're proud of you guys. You're helping out a whole lot of people everywhere."
Here in the commonwealth, advocates on both sides of the gay marriage debate agree the Supreme Court's decision does not affect Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
They say the ruling was based on a legal technicality, and did not address the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex unions.
Representatives of the group Equality Virginia say the gay-rights organization will continue working to repeal Virginia's gay marriage ban.