Chicago reacts to Supreme Court gay marriage rulings

June 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The high court delivered victories for gay marriage supporters. An impromptu comment from Ald. Tom Tunney brought many city councilmen to their feet.

"Today is an important day for our city and our country," said Tunney.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, allowing same sex couples access to federal benefits, and it allowed gay marriage to continue in California by defeating Proposition Eight.

"Historic turning point for us to see the court recognizing not only that gay people should be treated equally as individuals but that their couples should be treated with the same level of dignity," said John Knight of ACLU of Illinois.

Some of those opposed to gay marriage hope states will protect marriage for heterosexual couples for the sake of the families.

"What this decision does for folks on the traditional marriage side is a strong reminder that we've got to continue to educate both the public and legislators about the nature and purpose of marriage," said Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society.

The Supreme Court ruling has no effect on Bob Schwartz and Ruffin Robinson.

"You don't want to government telling you that you're a second-class citizen," said Schwartz.

Schwartz and Robinson were married in Canada eight years ago, but they do not have the same benefits and rights in Illinois as heterosexual married couples.

"I was hoping that today would be the day that all gay people would be able to get married, but of course, the court didn't choose to go that far, but they left the door open for us to eventually get there," said Robinson.

Some gay rights activists now turn the focus back to local laws. A bill to legalize same sex marriage did not make it to the through the state legislature last session.

"It's time for the members to take a vote and vote yes in favor of it, because I will sign that bill into law and make that the law of the land," said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

It is unclear if local same sex couples in civil unions will be given access to federal benefits. That may require clarification from the president or Congress.

So Wednesday's rulings may mean more for the overall momentum of the gay rights movement as Chicagoans celebrate Pride Month.

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