The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday by a 5-4 vote that The Defense of Marriage Act, the
The court also dismissed Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.
Many South Orange and Maplewood residents were elated by the pair of decisions. "Today my family officially matters, not just to our family and friends but in the eyes of the law," posted Kristin O'Connor Saslovsky on Maplewood's Facebook page.
"While this is a major day of victory and celebration for our LGBT neighbors, it is a significant day for us all," posted Maplewood resident Barbara Heisler. "Diminished civil rights for any of us threatens us all."
DOMA, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, prevents same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized by their home state from receiving the hundreds of benefits available to other married couples under federal law.
Others were guardedly optimistic, noting that despite the rulings, gay marriage is still not permitted in New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill in 2012.
"This is a huge day for equality in our country and a very emotional day for my family, personally," said CJ Prince, Maplewood resident and executive director of North Jersey Pride. "My partner and I have been waiting 13 years to have the same federal rights and recognition as our heterosexual friends. This broad ruling puts New Jersey right in the spotlight now, as ground zero for marriage equality, because it highlights the differences between civil union and marriage."
Prince said North Jersey Pride would host a celebration on the steps of Maplewood Town Hall Wednesday from 6 pm - 8:30 pm. The public is invited to attend; children are welcome.
"We would be happier if it had been a unanimous decision," said South Orange resident and blogger Deborah Goldstein, who is also a contributing editor for LesbianFamily.com. "It still confounds me that there are educated, esteemed and experienced judges ruling over our nation who would allow political leanings and subjective definitions of morality to prevent them from ruling in favor of equality."
Steve Mershon, moderator of Rainbow Families of Maplewood and South Orange, said the rulings made him "both elated and saddened." He continued, "Now that the word 'marriage' comes with over 1100 federal benefits, rights, and obligations for same sex married couples, as it always has for heterosexual married couples, state law is more clearly than ever in non-compliance with the NJ Supreme Court ruling that our constitution requires equal benefits for same sex married couples."