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SCOTUS decisions bring unparalled joy across America; Obama calls plaintiffs | VIDEO

What a historic day! Two landmark victories at the U.S. Supreme Court to knock down California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) put the U.S. on the road toward granting full marriage rights for everyone, signaling that it is only a matter of time before all Americans will be treated equality.

LGBT groups and individuals and their allies poured out congratulations today. Here is a sampling of those comments of celebration.

President Barack Obama, who was on Air Force One en route to state visits in Africa, called to congratulate the winning plaintiffs in both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. He reached Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who handed his cell phone to Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier as they were speaking live on MSNBC with host Thomas Roberts. Fellow plantiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo joined them to hear the President speak:

"We're proud of you guys, and we're proud to have this in California," President Obama said, according to audio that aired live on MSNBC as the president spoke by phone from aboard Air Force One en route to Senegal. "And it's because of your leadership things are heading the right way. So you should be very proud today."

Watch the video from the show:


The Prop 8 case was brought by the American Foundation For Equal Rights (AFER).

Plaintiff Kris Perry:

“Today is a great day for American children and families. Sandy and I want to say how happy we are, not only to be able to return to California and finally get married, but to be able to say to children in California that no matter where you live, no matter who your parents are, no matter what family you are in: you are equal, you are as good as your friends’ parents and as your friends. We believed from the very beginning that the importance of this case was to send a message to the children of this country that you are just as good as everybody else no matter who you love, no matter who you’re parents love.”

Plaintiff Sandy Stier:

“Today is not just about us, it is about kids in the South, it is about kids in Texas, it is about kids everywhere. And we really need to take this fight all the way and win equality for everyone in this entire country.”

Plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo:

“The Perry case changed the conversation. It altered the game. It created a groundswell of momentum and passion that brought us here to the Supreme Court today. Today, the Court said that I am more equal, that we are more equal, our love is just like our parents and grandparents and that any children we may have in the future will be more secure. I look forward to growing old with the man I love. Today is a great day to be an American.”

Plaintiff Paul Katami:

“Today, we are closer to marriage equality for all. We are lucky, but we know that this fight continues across the country. We cannot forget our LGBT brothers and sisters that are in states that still discriminate against them, and we will not allow it. We will continue the fight until all of us our equal. We stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before us. People that risked their lives to stand up and be who they are. They gave us the legs to stand up on today. They gave us the momentum to run with and the voice to speak loudly and say proudly: we are gay, we are American, and we will not be treated like second-class citizens.”

Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, plaintiff co-counsel:

“This is a momentous victory for America’s constitutional commitment to equal rights for all. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court permits the plaintiffs we represent — and tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians — to exercise the freedom to marry the person they love. With Proposition 8 finally gone, our nation moves one giant step closer toward the day when every American—in every state—will be able to equally enjoy the fundamental freedom to marry. This is a proud day for all Americans.”

David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, plaintiff co-counsel:

“After years of unjust and unlawful discrimination, gay and lesbian Californians will no longer be treated as second-class citizens, unworthy of the fundamental right to marry the person they love. As we have said from the very beginning of this case, the denial of that fundamental right seriously harms gay and lesbian Americans and the children they are raising. It serves no legitimate state interest. Our Constitution guarantees liberty and equality for all, and today that promise was fulfilled for tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians and their families.”

Adam Umhoefer, executive director of AFER:

“This is a historic victory for California, for equality, and, most of all, for loving gay and lesbian couples and their families. Because of this decision, today we are more American. As historic as today’s Supreme Court decision is, 37 states still treat gay and lesbian Americans and their children as unequal, second-class citizens. That means that countless children still do not have the security and protection that marriage would provide their parents. The Court needs to recognize that the Constitution guarantees these families and loving, committed couples full equality under the law. Our work is not complete until marriage equality is a reality for all Americans.”

Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry:

“The Supreme Court has issued two rulings for freedom and fairness today. Striking down the heart of DOMA, the justices have affirmed that all married couples are equal, ending the ‘gay exception’ that relegated same-sex couples to second-class status for too long. Married couples – gay or non-gay – should be treated as what they are: married. And the ruling on Prop 8 ends marriage discrimination in California, meaning that nearly a third of Americans now live in a state with the freedom to marry.

“This is truly a day of celebration for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families – and for all of us who believe in the American journey to equality under the law and the pursuit of happiness, with liberty and justice for all. The Supreme Court’s mortal blow to DOMA puts the moral weight of the federal government on the side of all Americans who seek to share in the freedom to marry and all its protections and responsibilities.

“And with California now joining 12 other states as engines moving the country forward, Freedom to Marry will continue working our winning strategy: winning more states, fully overturning DOMA to end federal marriage discrimination, and continuing to grow the national majority for marriage. Before long we will be ready to go back before the Supreme Court and win the freedom to marry nationwide.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign:

"Today’s historic decisions put two giant cracks in the dark wall of discrimination that separates committed gay and lesbian couples from full equality. While we celebrate the victory for Californians today, tomorrow we turn our attention to the millions of LGBT people who don’t feel the reach of these decisions. From the Rocky Mountains to the heart of the South, it’s time to push equality forward until every American can marry the person they love and all LGBT people are guaranteed equal protection under the law.

“These decisions underscore the emergence of two Americas. In one, LGBT citizens are nearing full equality. In the other, our community lacks even the most basic protections. Everywhere that injustice still prevails, we will fight for justice. And our message to those who cement their feet on the wrong side of history is that we will win.”

Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the CourageCampaign.org:

"Today the nation took another historic step towards creating a more perfect union. This is a watershed moment for equality and a clear statement from the highest court in the land that discrimination and hatred have no place in a country founded on the principles of liberty, justice and equality. The judiciary has now caught up with the American public and the tremendous momentum our movement has had since the passage of Prop. 8 five years ago. Love should not be legislated or litigated. We hope today's rulings settle this issue once and for all as we celebrate loving couples marrying in California and across the country in the coming weeks, months and years."

Jon Davidson, Lambda Legal’s legal director:

"Two ugly chapters in the history of our nation and of California are finally over. DOMA's core has been struck down, and the California Constitution will no longer compel unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their families. This is a great day for LGBT people and for our country.

"Exactly 10 years ago today, the Supreme Court issued an historic ruling striking down state laws that branded gay people as criminals. Today, it once again struck down a law passed by legislators who sat in moral judgment against LGBT people, this time condemning them in the eyes of the entire nation. DOMA was unconstitutional when Congress wrote it and, with today's ruling, its bruising hand has been lifted.

"This is a huge victory for married same-sex couples and their families because it will affect almost every facet of life from health care to retirement to taxes.

"The Supreme Court also restored the freedom to marry in California so that lesbians and gay men will once again be able to marry the person they love. Prop 8 has been thoroughly tested in court and lost because it's so clearly harmful to same-sex couples and their families. The Supreme Court recognized that individuals who oppose marriage for same-sex couples lack standing because they are not harmed in any way when those couples can marry - something at the heart of the matter that we have been saying all along.

"The two decisions the Supreme Court issued today came in United States v. Windsor, the DOMA challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Edie Windsor, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 challenge brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER).

"At Lambda Legal, we are popping champagne corks and offer our congratulations to the courageous plaintiffs in these cases, and our thanks to the ACLU and their co-counsel at Paul Weiss and to Ted Olson and David Boies, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, for securing these tremendous victories.

"Key details remain to be worked out over the coming months, including the implications for legally married same-sex couples living in states that deny their true marital status. Lambda Legal and our sister organizations will work with Obama Administration officials and will continue to pursue legal and administrative actions as may help to clarify these matters and to implement both of today's judgments against discrimination."

Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans:

“Today's ruling is a victory of conservative principles and admonishment of government overreach.

“Civil marriage strengthens families, supports stability, and allows greater opportunity for couples to live without the crutch of government assistance, and now with Section 3 of DOMA rightly relegated to the dustbin of history, same-sex couples in civil marriage partnerships in those states that allow it can engage in the full spectrum of federal rights previously denied them.

“Log Cabin Republicans thanks our allies and advocates around the country for their efforts, with special recognition to Republican Ted Olson, whose persuasive argument against Proposition 8 has cemented his legacy as a conservative hero on the right side of history, regardless of the scope of today's ruling. Now the fight continues in the states, and Log Cabin Republicans will continue to be on the front lines to take the conservative case for marriage to Republicans across the nation. History is on our side, and the wind is at our backs. We're not done yet — not by a long shot.”
Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way Foundation:

“Today’s DOMA ruling is a profound step forward for loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The decision is premised on the plain fact that there is no good reason for the government to recognize some legally married couples while discriminating against others.
“While the outcome of Hollingsworth v. Perry reflects a missed opportunity to affirm the freedom to marry nationwide, it also serves a long-overdue restoration of justice to the thousands of loving couples in California who suddenly saw their marriages put up for a popular vote. This decision clears the way for same-sex couples in California to once again be treated equally under the law.
“Today isn’t just a good day for the LGBT community. It’s an important victory for all Americans who value the principle of equal justice under law and who believe that the long arc of the universe bends ultimately towards justice.
“I couldn’t be happier that Section Three of DOMA and Prop 8 have been consigned to the dustbin of history. But we won’t rest until couples in every state have an equal right to marry the under the law. There’s plenty of work left to do. We can’t wait to do it.”

John O’Connor, Equality California executive director:

“We have said from the beginning that the proponents of Prop. 8 couldn’t demonstrate a single way they would be harmed by loving same-sex couples marrying in California. Marriage will be restored imminently and we look forward to decisive leadership from our elected officials in reinstating marriage for all people in every community across the state. Today is a day for celebration.”

Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org:

“As the only openly gay leader of a national black civil rights organization and as someone who has spent a large majority of my career working for gay and transgender equality, I applaud the United States Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and extend federal benefits to same sex couples and declare Prop 8 unconstitutional. Not only because of what it means to me personally, but more importantly because of the message that it sends to the youth of our country, the opportunities that it opens for thousands of loving and committed couples and their families, and the hope it provides to all of those working in civil rights. Even in the midst of major setbacks, we still have moments of significant progress. ”

Alfred Fraijo Jr., president of HONOR PAC:

"Today, the Supreme Court Justices paved the way for affirming what we have known all along -- that loving same-sex couples should be afforded the freedom to marry the person they love in California and be entitled to the federal rights they deserve. Latinas/os throughout California are celebrating today, as our brothers, sisters and friends will be able to express their love for one another beyond civil unions. We join in on the celebrations and look forward to continuing our work to ensure that LGBT Latinas/os continue to achieve equality beyond marriage, including in Comprehensive Immigration Reform, workplace protections, health care and education."

Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress:

“Today the Supreme Court delivered two rulings for the history books. The Court ruled that discrimination against legally married same-sex couples violates the Constitution’s promise of equal treatment under the law. Following this ruling, all legally married couples, including same-sex couples, should be treated as married by the government in more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections—from Social Security to health insurance and even family-based immigration. And these couples should be treated equally no matter where they live. LGBT Americans won big today; however, it’s unfortunate that today’s victory came following other recent rulings striking at the heart of many Americans’ equality before the law. History will not look kindly upon many of the Roberts Court’s other rulings this term.”

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of National Black Justice Coalition:

"Antiquated laws like Proposition 8 and DOMA disproportionately harm LGBT people of color, and ultimately our nation. Today is a victorious day for our community, our families, and our love."

Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy:

"Today's Supreme Court decisions striking down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and allowing same-sex couples to resume marrying in California provide major wins for the constitutional principle of equal protection. The majority opinion correctly held that DOMA violated the Constitution's guarantee of due process and equality under the law, with the resounding statement that it flouted ‘equal dignity’ that individual states have sought to provide by recognizing same-sex marriages. There is much to celebrate for lesbians and gay men who for far too long have been treated as second-class citizens by their federal government and saw their right to marry yanked from them by Proposition 8. Today’s high court actions signal much-welcomed advancement for equality.

"But let us not forget that these rulings come on the heels of the Court's decisions to misread the Constitution and gut the Voting Rights Act, limit the use of affirmative action in education, make it harder for workers to bring lawsuits over harassment and help big businesses avoid myriad regulations. So while we laud the advancement of equality for lesbians and gay men, we must recognize that the Roberts Court remains a deeply conservative Court that shows a brash flair for misconstruing constitutional precepts to reach ends that advance its far right and pro-corporate agenda."

Fred Karger, president of Rights Equal Rights:

"Nearly 56 long months ago gay marriage was yanked away from Californians by the slimmest of margins.

"I had the privilege of working full time, from May through November in 2008, taking on the proponents of Proposition 8, specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and their major donors.

"We led boycotts of four of the biggest contributors to Prop 8 and settled three of them. I discovered the Mormon’s Church’s complete control of the qualification and passage of Prop 8 and got the LDS Church prosecuted, investigated, found guilty on 13 counts of election fraud and fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

"Today we celebrate two substantial victories before the United States Supreme Court in our fight for full equality. We are two giant steps closer to the day when all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are truly equal under the law and to ourselves. We are no longer second-class citizens.

"Huge thanks go out to the vision, courage and determination of Chad Griffin and his dream team of attorneys headed up by Ted Olson and David Boies. They put together the case that overturned Proposition 8 and dramatically changed public opinion along the way. Thanks, too to the heroic Edie Windsor and her attorney Roberta Kaplan for their incredible work to strike down government sanctioned discrimination, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"We will celebrate these victories today, and then get right back to work so that marriage equality is the law of the land in all 50 states."

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of federal programs and benefits such as Social Security and immigration. In a separate decision today, the Court also ruled that the supporters of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that stripped same-sex couples of the freedom to marry in California, did not have the legal right to appeal a 2010 decision by federal District Judge Vaughn Walker striking down that proposition as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision means that Judge Walker’s decision will be the final ruling in the case, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry again in California in the near future.

"In the DOMA case, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that DOMA violates the constitutional guarantees of liberty and equal protection of the laws. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

"In the Proposition 8 case, the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the supporters of Proposition 8 lacked legal standing to appeal Judge Walker’s decision striking down the initiative. The Court ruled that because the Governor and Attorney General of California—the officials responsible for defending state laws in court — decided not to appeal Judge Walker’s decision, the supporters of Proposition 8 could not appeal that decision on their own because they could not show that allowing same-sex couples to marry would personally affect them in any way.

"NCLR filed friend-of-the-court briefs in both cases urging the Supreme Court to strike down DOMA and Proposition 8. Along with the law firms of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and McCarter & English, NCLR was counsel on a brief filed on behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and dozens of other leading civil rights organizations and bar associations, including the NAACP, the National Organization for Women Foundation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition."

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud:

"As constitutional conservatives, we are pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed that marriage and family law is the purview of the states. We have been longtime supporters of marriage being a states' right. DOMA was a gross federal overreach and the Court was right in striking it down. We are also delighted that same-sex couples in California will now, again, have the freedom to marry the person they love.

“We know that stable, loving, committed relationships are the cornerstone of our society and should be protected and encouraged for all couples - including gay and lesbian couples. Now, we will make that case, state by state, in an effort to legalize civil marriage for gay couples by the people directly or through their elected representatives."