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Gay rights activists celebrate same-sex marriage rulings

Gay rights activists celebrate same-sex marriage rulings

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Supporters of gay marriage in Colorado Springs rallied downtown Wednesday to celebrate two Supreme Court decisions.

One struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples. The other cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California by leaving in place a trial court's declaration that California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Charles Irwin, executive director of Colorado Springs Pride, said that even though the ruling doesn't mean much for Colorado Springs, since Colorado only allows civil unions, he believes it reiterates the fact that the majority of Americans want equality.

Since the Defense of Marriage Act was made law in 1996, public opinion of gay marriage has greatly shifted.  In 1996, just 27 percent of Americans said gay and lesbian marriages should be recognized by law, according to CNN polling. Today, a majority of Americans -- 55 percent -- say that marriages between gays and lesbians should be recognized as valid, with 44 percent opposed. More than two-thirds of young people support same-sex marriage, a recent Pew survey found.

Members of the LGBT community rallied at City Hall Wednesday, cheering and sharing their stories.

Ayden Merino said he struggled with his sexuality when he was younger, but has now accepted it and hopes to help other young people going through the same thing.

"Moving to Colorado Springs, I heard so many horror stories when I was young and I really tried to hide it," Merino said. "Eventually it was easier for me to accept myself and once I started to accept myself I found those people around me who were there for me and had my back and I wanted to give back."
The provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that was struck down Wednesday kept legally-married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits that go to married couples of the opposite sex.

In the other ruling, the justices said nothing at all about same-sex marriage itself. But the outcome will probably allow California officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the state in about a month.

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