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Supporters gather to celebrate US Supreme Court decision on James Street

Crowds erupted in song and cheers outside the US Supreme Court after two major victories for gay rights supporters.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Crowds erupted in song and cheers outside the US Supreme Court after two major victories for gay rights supporters.

The US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act - also known as DOMA - ruling it unconstitutional.

The ruling legally allows same-sex married couples to receive federal benefits.

The Justices refused to rule on Proposition 8, paving the way for same-sex marriage in California.

Supporters and members of the LGBTQ community gathered to celebrate Wednesday’s landmark decisions on James Street.

Organizers say there was going to be a rally on James Street regardless of the outcome of the US Supreme Court decision.

Instead of protest, people gathered in celebration of an historic moment for equality and gay rights.

The landmark decisions will have a big impact on same-sex couples in New York, such as Joe Moore and his partner of 18 years.

"We are not married, and in many ways we were waiting for this decision, so I think there will be a marriage in the future here,” Moore said.

When More and his partner legally get married in New York, they will be entitled to all the federal benefits that straight married couples have.

For same-sex couples - the decision means dozens of new rights - everything from being able to file joint tax returns to being a part of major end of life decisions for your spouse.

"Some of those things like inheritance rights, the right to keep your home if your partner goes into a nursing home, veteran’s benefits and insurance and all sorts of things that will now become available to spouses because of this ruling,” said Kim Dill with Sage Upstate, a Central New York LGBTQ advocacy group.

At the heart of the marriage-equality cases, a bigger debate is being brought up on whether these decisions should be left to the states.

A third of states allow same sex couples to marry, the others have a ban on gay marriage.

“There are the legal rights and then the social recognition and just sort of one step closer to be full equal citizens,” Dill said.

While many celebrated Wednesday night, many in the gay community will say there is still work to be done on the road to marriage equality throughout the US.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner attended Wednesday’s marriage equality rally.

"Harvey Milk once said, ‘Hope will never be silent.’ Today we saw hope scream. The Supreme Court's decision gives families in Syracuse, across New York, and across the country the legal legitimacy to match their love and devotion.” Miner stated. “It is a victory we can all celebrate and one I take to heart.”

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