WASHINGTON -- Two big decisions today from the U.S. Supreme court on gay rights. The court today struck down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act that deprived same sex couples of federal marriage benefits and the court let stand a ruling that banning gay marriage in California is unconstitutional.
Gay activists hope the two rulings will mean more dignity for gay couples and their kids.
"It's the day i finally get to look at the man i love and finally say will you please marry me said Paul Katami a plaintiff in California's Proposition 8 case.
The justices by 5 to 4 let that ruling by a lower court stand but did not address marriage rights in that or other states. Still , it was a win for Kris Perry and Sandy Steir plaintiff's in the California case.
"Now we will be married and we will be equal to every other family in California, Perry said.
Every same sex married couple benefits from the court's other ruling: the Defense of Marriage Act blocking federal marriage benefits to same sex spouses is unconstitional.
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 force to pay federal taxes on inheritance as if they weren't married.
Now, Edie gets a refund and a place in history. It makes me feel incredibly proud and humble, said Windsor.
Back at the court, conservatives and evangelicals were upset.
"A radical attempt to redefine marriage, said Kansas republican, Congressman Tim Huelskamp.
"The Supreme Court has no authority when comes to nature of marriage that authority belongs to creator," said reverend Rob Schenck of the Evangelical Church Alliance.
Shortly after the rulings, the California couples got a call from President Obama who'd left on Air Force One.
"We're proud of you guys," Mr. Obama said. "You're helping out a whole lot of people everywhere."
What's not clear is which federal marriage benefits can be claimed now by same sex couples wed in a state where gay marriage is legal but living in a state where it's not.