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Friday, June 26, 2015

New Orleans celebrates SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 9:05 PM

click to enlarge Christina and Carolyn Lucas married in New York in 2014 and have been together since 2004.
  • Christina and Carolyn Lucas married in New York in 2014 and have been together since 2004.

"We went to sleep last night, we weren't married. When we got up today, we were."

Carolyn Lucas married her partner Christina in New York last year. They brought their marriage certificate to a rally where hundreds of people celebrated today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states and recognizes already married same-sex couples in states that have banned their marriages.

"I feel like I'm finally accepted by my own country," Christina said. "We feel more like citizens."

As the sun set over the French Quarter, hundreds of people filled Jackson Square outside St. Louis Cathedral, carrying equality signs, wrapped in rainbow flags, faces painted with "Love Rules" and waving U.S. flags. A rally opened with a booming national anthem and pledge of allegiance, ending with a roaring "with liberty and justice for all."

Despite the Supreme Court's decision, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell put the brakes on issuing marriage licenses in the state. People at the rally, however, said that Louisiana will soon face the inevitable.

Speakers at the rally included representatives from marriage equality groups Forum For Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Louisiana, Father Bill Terry of Saint Anna's Episcopal Church New Orleans, rabbi Robert Loewy of Metairie's Congregation Gates of Prayer and plaintiffs in a Louisiana case challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. Derek Penton-Robicheaux and his husband Jon are among those plaintiffs.

"We're ecstatic, we're very pleased with the ruling — of course we're going to get the pushback in Louisiana, for now, but eventually the law of the land from the highest court will prevail," Derek told Gambit. "They're going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming."

Jacqueline Brettner and her partner Lauren — holding their daughter Sophie — also are plaintiffs in the Louisiana case.

"Today, for the first time, Lauren and I — and all of those out there — we are married," Jacqueline told the crowd. "Today, for the first time, my daughter ... will have the possibility to have both her mothers on her birth certificate. ... We remind those who will look to the annals of history and what we say here today, our nation, while great, some day did struggle with something as arbitrary as love — never forget that fact and never take it for granted. For now, our little family, we are very, very grateful to say that tonight, all you need is love."

click to enlarge Jacqueline Brettner with her partner Lauren and daughter Sophie. The Brettners are among the Louisiana plaintiffs challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban.
  • Jacqueline Brettner with her partner Lauren and daughter Sophie. The Brettners are among the Louisiana plaintiffs challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban.

Several members of New Orleans City Council — including Council President Jason Williams and council members Jared Brossett, Susan Guidry and Nadine Ramsey — congratulated the crowd, spoke out against discrimination and celebrated love.

"I am so proud to be an ally," Williams said. "No matter how backwards or ignorant our governor is, in the state of Louisiana, love is love, and love has been decriminalized. ... It's a victory for the men and women who died in shame because they could not be who they are or love who they love."

"My mom always said, 'It takes all kinds of people to make up a world.' I have since I was a little girl taken that to heart," said Guidry, holding back tears. "I love you guys. This is wonderful. Let's dance in the streets."

click to enlarge New Orleans City Council president Jason Williams.
  • New Orleans City Council president Jason Williams.

"Today, the Supreme Court of the U.S. made clear that marriage discrimination is behind us," said Sarah Jane Brady, director of Forum For Equality. "Today, the court has ruled in favor of that one thing so present among this crowd today: love. ... Today, love won. And yet, we still wait here in Louisiana. ... Louisiana still continues to hold onto its discriminatory past. It's not yet possible for same-sex couples to reap the benefits of this decision, but rest assured that that past to which Louisiana so desperately clings will come to an end." 

click to enlarge Forum For Equality director SarahJane Brady.
  • Forum For Equality director SarahJane Brady.

Michael Robinson and Earl Benjamin were the first couple in New Orleans to apply for a marriage license this morning following the Supreme Court ruling. After waiting for hours, and after getting word that Caldwell had not instructed clerks of court to issue same-sex marriage licenses, they were turned away.

"We will be back at the office again — they will not deny us, only delay the inevitable," Robinson said.

"I went into the situation joyous, and I left a bit disheartened," Benjamin said. "I know that the sun is going to rise again and we will have the right to marry in this state. ... While we were waiting to receive our license, we saw people come in, get their license and leave. But what gave me hope was that — an African-American couple, an Asian couple, a white couple, a young couple — different couples came up to us and said, 'Hang in there.'"

click to enlarge Earl Benjamin, left, and Michael Robinson.
  • Earl Benjamin, left, and Michael Robinson.

See more photos from the rally below:
click to enlarge A painting collected signatures in support of marriage equality.
  • A painting collected signatures in support of marriage equality.
click to enlarge Nancy Myatt, who married her partner Paige Bernhardt in 2013.
  • Nancy Myatt, who married her partner Paige Bernhardt in 2013.
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click to enlarge r6.jpg
click to enlarge r7.jpg

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