By Alex Lippa
---- — Lexi Deschene, 21, was beaming yesterday when she learned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“This is absolutely great news,” the Derry resident said. “Love is love in my mind.”
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday, 5-4, that the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied benefits to married, same-sex couples was unconstitutional, marking a major victory for proponents of gay rights.
They also, in a 5-4 decision, left in place a trial court’s declaration that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That outcome probably will allow state officials to order the resumption of same-sex weddings in the nation’s most populous state in about a month.
In New Hampshire, Democratic state officials were applauding the decision by the court. Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Hampshire since 2010.
“Today, the Supreme Court has affirmed the founding principle of the United States of America that all are created equal,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement. “All married couples, no matter their gender, will receive the fair and equal treatment under the law that they so rightly deserve.”
Recent polls have shown that New Hampshire supports gay marriage. In a poll taken last August by The Survey Center at the University of New Hampshire, 61 percent of New Hampshire residents polled were against the repeal of the law legalizing gay marriage.
Massachusetts has been instrumental in legalizing gay marriage, becoming the first state to legalize it in 2004.
Devon Chaffee, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, called the ruling the “beginning of the end” for discrimination against same-sex couples.
“The ruling will make a huge difference in the lives of same-sex married couples in the state of New Hampshire and across the country,” she said. “Today is a great day for equality and the beginning of the end of official discrimination against gay and lesbian people.”
Outside Market Basket on Nashua Road in Londonderry, many were eager to give their opinions on the decision.
“I think it’s great,” said Annie Boyle, 46, of Londonderry “It gives a clean slate to same-sex-marriage and demonstrates that the general population feels strongly about moving forward for marriage to be equal.”
Others didn’t understand why the Supreme Court had overturned the decision.
“I don’t understand why the Supreme Court is wasting their time on decisions already voted on,” said Ray Avola, 55, of Winthrop, Mass. “I have nothing against gays, but the majority in California already said that they didn’t want this.”
Mike Laliberty, 51, of Pelham, said he believes all married people should receive benefits.
“I don’t believe in same-sex marriage,” he said, “but if they’re getting married, then they should receive the same as everyone else.”
Rhonda Van Auken, 45, of Sandown said she was pleased with any decision that supported gay rights.
“They should have the same rights as anyone else,” she said.
Michelle Case, 23, of Londonderry said she was happy for her aunt, who is gay.
“I’m all for it,” she said. “There should be equal love for everyone.”
Ken Ewing, 59, of Lebanon, N.J. ,said he didn’t understand why there should be different rights for marriages.
“All married couples are entitled to the same things,” he said. “There is no reason why they should have different benefit plans.”
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., referenced the children of same-sex couples as being winners in this ruling.
“This is a particularly great moment for many children of same-sex couples,” she said in a statement. “From this day forward, these children will live in a country that treats their parents as the equal citizens they are.”
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she respected the decision.
“While I believe in traditional marriage, I respect that the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of our nation’s laws,” Ayotte said. “Ultimately, I do think that states should define marriage and the court’s decision preserves states’ rights to do so.”
Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said the ruling was a step in the right direction.
“This is a major victory and an enormous step forward in the march toward equality for our country,” Kuster said, “but our journey will continue until all Americans are treated equally under the law, no matter who they love.”
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., called it a historic ruling for the country.
“Today, our country took a historic step forward,” she said. “I am elated that all married Americans will be entitled to equal treatment under the law.”
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.