News4's Northern Virginia Bureau covers the races

Local Officials Weigh in on DOMA, Prop 8

By Amber Ferguson
|  Thursday, Oct 31, 2013  |  Updated 2:31 PM EDT
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News4's Tom Sherwood has reaction from both sides to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Tom Sherwood

News4's Tom Sherwood has reaction from both sides to the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

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Political and religious leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virginia reacted Wednesday in both support and opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on same-same marriage.

The court ruled Wednesday morning to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and also permitted same-sex marriages to resume in California, which had ended after voters approved the state's Proposition 8 in 2008.

Read on to learn what local leaders and members of Congress had to say.

Local Supporters:

“For too long, same-sex married couples have been given second-class status by state laws and federal laws like DOMA,” said Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. “Today... the Supreme Court has moved our nation one step closer to fulfilling the Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the law. Now we must work together to write the next chapter -- achieving marriage equality in all 50 states."

The decision to strike down DOMA means that the federal government can recognize same-sex marriages, granting couples the right to Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights, and federal family leave protection to same-sex couples in states where same-same marriage is legal, including the District of Columbia and Maryland.

“As Marylanders, and as Americans, we ultimately all want the same thing for our children: to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected equally under the law," said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said.

Voters in Maryland made same-sex marriage in the state legal in November.

“Loving families across our great nation have been made whole today,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

“Scripture teaches us that God shows no partiality,” said Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. "Today our country has moved closer to this vision of equality and unity, and I give thanks for our progress."

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today puts the court on the right side of history," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). "DOMA is unjust, un-American, and out of step with the values of our country. Our nation has a long history of fighting to overcome discrimination to secure civil rights for all citizens. I hope this decision gives momentum to efforts across the country to enshrine marriage equality into our laws.”

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) released a statement saying: "Those of us who were in the Congress when DOMA was passed in 1996 heard in real time the prejudice against the LGBT community in speeches on the House floor and saw it in official documents that the Court could not ignore in reaching today’s decision. Gay D.C. residents and others who were married here may well benefit disproportionately from today’s decision, in part because of the large number of our residents who are federal employees."

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a release, “As Dr. King famously said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’ -- and today’s decisions help move us significantly further along that arc’s trajectory toward full equality under the law."

Opponents:

"While a number of states and the District of Columbia have changed the legal definition of marriage, government is ultimately powerless to redefine human nature and what describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman..." wrote Catholic Church leaders in a statement released by the Archdiocese of Washington. "They do not have the ability or authority to change created human nature. The archdiocese will continue to educate Catholics and the wider community about the truth of marriage as the union between one man and one woman."

Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement that "Virginia has followed the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for more than 400 years... Today, the court's two decisions make clear that the rulings have no effect on Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage. This office will defend challenges to the constitution and the laws of Virginia."

The National Black Church Initiative said, the "NBCI continues to love our gay brothers and sisters, and recognizes them as a vital part of the fabric of our democracy. However, the Black Church cannot, and will not, support gay marriage now or ever."

NBCI is a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches and 15.7 million African-American churchgoers.

Outside the Supreme Court, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said, "Every child deserves a mommy and a daddy, and with this decision they undercut the needs of our children."

Huelskamp told reporters he will file a constitutional amendment later this week to restore DOMA.

"I believe that marriage is a unique institution best defined as the union between one man and one woman," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

During the House GOP leadership press conference, Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) said, "The Supreme Court appears to be in collusion with the President and his unjustice department."

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