Same-sex couples in Fort Wayne are celebrating Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
The 5-4 decision by the Court requires that all states license and recognize same-sex unions. Before the decision, only about two-thirds of states allowed those couples to marry.
Gay marriage has been legal in Indiana since 2014, when a federal judge toppled the state’s ban against it. The Supreme Court decision leaves Indiana’s status essentially unchanged.
Josh Edholm and his husband became the first gay couple to get married in Allen County once the ban was struck down. He says he’s glad to know same-sex couples now have equal marriage rights in all states.
“To me, it’s my life, and me getting married doesn’t affect anybody else, just the same as a straight couple getting married, it doesn’t affect me,” Edholm said. “It’s just a basic fundamental right that everybody should have.”
IPFW psychology professor Jeannie DiClementi agrees. She directs the university’s LGBTQ Resource Center, and in 2007, she and her partner became the first same-sex couple in Colorado to adopt children. DiClementi says, after decades of LGBT couples struggling for acceptance in the U.S., today’s news is a milestone.
“This has validated the existence of millions of people in our country,” DiClemente said. “It states that we are worthy of equal treatment. You can’t buy validation like that.”
But the high court’s decision is a controversial one for many Hoosiers, including Republican Governor Mike Pence.
In a statement, Pence said he was disappointed in the ruling, and believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
“Nevertheless, our administration will continue to uphold the rule of law and abide by the ruling of the Court in this case,” Pence said. “Under our system of government, our citizens are free to disagree with decisions of the Supreme Court, but we are not free to disobey them.”
The Catholic Church is also weighing in. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend released a statement Friday afternoon saying that while the human dignity of gays and lesbians should be upheld, the decision is “unjust.”
“Making same-sex unions equivalent to marriage disregards the very nature of marriage as naturally ordered toward authentic union and the generation of new life,” Rhoades said.
While the news from the court solves the constitutional question of same-sex marriage, it does not solve the social controversy surrounding it.
Professor DiClementi expects legislative backlash in statehouses across the country in the months to come, and says while the Supreme Court’s ruling is a vital step, gay Hoosiers have more work to do.
“It will be a big mistake for LGBTQ people to think that now we can sit back and relax and it’s over,” DiClementi said. “I think there’s going to be pushback, and certainly, we have a long way to go.”