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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court says legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.
During the lunch hour, Jefferson Square in downtown Louisville became a gathering place for those who support same sex marriage.
Jamie McClard with the Fairness Campaign says, "It says Prop 8 equals hate. It's saying we don't deserve the same thing as heterosexual couples."
McClard and others want to show their support for the rulings. They held up signs and wrote messages with chalk.
Reverend Robert Schenk with the Evangelical Church Alliance says, "The Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage. That authority belongs to the creator."
Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation issued a statement saying "This is not the Roe v. Wade of marriage. The bottom line for Kentuckians is that Kentucky's Marriage Amendment is left intact, which was passed with more votes in favor than votes on both sides of any previous Kentucky constitutional amendment."
Jerome Hickman Jr. from Louisville told WDRB, "I'm happy today. I'm glad the federal government didn't take marriage rights away. I wish they could they could work more and take the rights away from states to keep us from having our marriage rights too."
Becca Cason with the Fairness Campaign says, "Although this isn't like all the way, we haven't reached the same height as heterosexual marriage, we are headed in the right direction. It's definitely a good change."
Chanting "DOMA is Dead," supporters of same-sex marriage who were gathered outside the Supreme Court burst into cheers at the news.
Sarah Prager, 26, cried when she heard the news standing outside the court. Prager married her wife in Massachusetts in 2011 and now lives in Maryland.
"I'm in shock. I didn't expect DOMA to be struck down," she said through tears and shaking. Prager was referring to the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, which was aimed at preserving the legal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
A large crowd had thronged to the high court's plaza earlier to await not only the decision on DOMA, but also a ruling on whether a constitutional amendment in California prohibiting gay marriage could stand the test of challenge.
Most of the crowd that spilled across the sidewalk in front of the court were gay marriage supporters. One person held a rainbow flag and another wore a rainbow shawl, and a number of people carried signs with messages including "2 moms make a right" and "`I Do' Support Marriage Equality." Others wore T-shirts including "Legalize gay" and "It's time for marriage equality." At several points the crowd began a call and response: "What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now."
Larry Cirignano, 57, was in the minority with a sign supporting marriage only between a man and a woman. He said he drove four hours from Far Hills, N.J., because he believed all views should be represented. He had said he hoped the court would follow the lead of 38 states that have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
George Washington University student Philip Anderson, 20, came to the court with a closet door that towered above his head. He had painted it with a message opposing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and which the court is considering. His door read: "This used to oppress me. Repeal DOMA; Now. No more shut doors."
Thirty-four-year-old Ian Holloway of Los Angeles got to the court around 7 a.m. to try to get a seat inside the courtroom. Holloway said he and his partner had planned to get married in March but when the justices decided to hear the case involving California's ban on gay marriage they pushed back their date.
He said, "We have rings ready. We're ready to go as soon as the decision comes down."