Local leaders react to SCOTUS rejection of DOMA

Dee DeQuattro


Most local leaders are pleased with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

Rhode Islander's for Marriage Equality rejoiced at the decision releasing the following statement:

“This is a tremendous victory for all loving, committed couples and their families. Today's decision by the Supreme Court is a resounding affirmation of the truly American ideals of equal protection and justice under the law. Furthermore, The Court declared that all married couples, regardless of gender or orientation, deserve equal respect and recognition.

The so-called Defense of Marriage Act created a unique “gay exemption” in federal law – one that caused pain, confusion and financial harm to couples all across the country. 

With Rhode Island's recent passage of marriage equality and today's historic decision, hundreds of Rhode Island couples are now able to better protect one another and their children. We look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of the Ocean State's LGBTQ community and working to advance the cause of equal and fair treatment for all Rhode Island citizens.

The ruling on California's Proposition 8 is also a tremendous win. In dismissing the Perry case, The Court recognized that advocates of denying the freedom to marry to all loving, committed couples lacked the standing to appeal a lower court's ruling that found Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. As a result, the lower court's ruling stands and California's marriage equality statute will be restored. 

While this has certainly been an unprecedented year of progress for Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota and now, California, it also important to recognize that 37 states still treat gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens. As President Obama said in his last inaugural address: 'Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.'”

The National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island was less than enthusiastic with the decision. Chris Plante, NOM RI executive director, released the following statement:

“The National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island condemns today's Supreme Court rulings.  The Court got both cases wrong.  In DOMA, Justice Kennedy and others got the concept of “federalism” wrong; the federal government has the right and the duty to make laws and rules for its purposes.  In Prop 8, the Court's ruling is a miscarriage of justice.  To follow their logic, any legal referendum duly passed by voters, can now be invalidated by elected officials by simply refusing to defend the law of the land, something all officials are sworn to do.”

“Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the Supreme Court did not find a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and DOMA is not dead.  States are still free, and protected, to define marriage as they see fit.”

Speaker of the House Gordon Fox who helped champion the passage of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island released the following statement:

“This ruling shows that our nation's highest court has recognized what I have been advocating for many years: that all citizens are guaranteed equal protections. Rhode Island took the historic step to recognize all marriages beginning on August 1, and this ruling means that our state's married couples will enjoy all state and federal rights and protections.  This is wonderful news and shows that the march toward equality throughout the land is gaining further momentum.”

Congressman David Cicilline was one of the first legislators to introduce the bill over a decade ago but it was table. He released the following statement:

 “Today's Supreme Court decisions affirm that bigotry and discrimination are inconsistent with our great American values and will not be tolerated in our country, and that, as we have expressed since the days of our founding, every American is created equal.  With the Court standing on the right side of history, today's opinion will have real benefits for loving, committed couples in Rhode Island and across our nation and the federal government will no longer refuse to recognize the civil institution of marriage based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.” 

“At the same time, all advocates for equality recognize that our work continues at the federal level until each of the 50 states recognizes the basic equality of all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I look forward to continuing this fight in the weeks and months ahead.”

Governor Chafee was a strong proponent of same sex marriage in Rhode Island and has pushed for it since taking office. He released the following statement:

“All those who value the American ideals of tolerance, fairness, respect for diversity, and equal protection under the law should be heartened by this morning's historic decision, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

For the nearly two decades that DOMA was the law of the land in our country, discrimination and unequal treatment were, regrettably, given legal legitimacy. Today's decision, therefore, is a meaningful, positive development in the long and ongoing story of the United States as the freest country on earth.

I am pleased that we were recently able to secure passage of marriage equality here in Rhode Island, and the Supreme Court's decision today will extend federal benefits and protections to same-sex Rhode Island couples who choose to marry.

As I have said before, public opinion is rapidly evolving on this issue, and laws at the local, state, and federal level increasingly reflect that evolution. I am confident that the push for equality will continue to grow stronger in state houses, court houses, and polling places in every state in America. But today's decision, in the highest court in the land, is a significant victory and no small step forward for our country.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick released the following statement:

“By affirming the principle that people come before their government as equals, today's Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA is a win for the American people. I applaud the Court's decision on Prop 8 in California as well. Freedom includes keeping government out of people's most personal and intimate choices, and affirming human dignity. Today's decisions do that.”

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras made the following statement:

“Today's decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that strikes down DOMA as discriminatory and unconstitutional is another civil rights milestone for our nation and a victory for everyone who believes in fundamental fairness and equality under the law.”