Supreme Court same-sex marriage rulings hit home in MN - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Supreme Court same-sex marriage rulings hit home in MN


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which kept legally-married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits that go to married couples of the opposite sex.

Wednesday's decision means the federal government must now recognize the same sex marriages deemed legal by the states.  The ruling will help determine who is covered by more than 1,000 federal laws and benefits including social security survivor benefits and family leave. 

"The benefits are important but they are secondary," said Sara Hocker of Rochester.  "It's really more of a symbolic win that now that marriage is legal in our state it's recognized on a federal level."

"The family basically came in and took the money because legally they had the right to do so.  But now I think it's going to be much harder for that to happen in states where same sex marriage is legal," said Vangie Castro, chair of the Rochester Gay & Lesbian Community Board.

The rulings stem from a woman by the name of Edie Windsor who was forced to pay $363,000  in taxes after her spouse died.  She then sued.

"It makes me feel incredibly proud and humble," Windsor said.

"I was actually really surprised," Castro said.  "A lot of people in my community were shocked.  They thought it was going to be a more conservative decision."

IIn Washington, D.C some religious leaders were outraged.

"The Supreme Court has no authority when it comes to the nature of marriage -- that authority belongs to creator," said Rev. Rob Schenck, Evangelical Church Alliance Chairman.

"DOMA is unconstitutional," said Amy Britain of Rochester.  "It might seem like it's going a little fast for some people but really it's been a long time coming."

The ruling only applies to 12 states, Minnesota being the most recent to have legalized same sex marriage.

Minnesota for Marriage chairman John Helmberger called both rulings bad but said the group didn't find any constitutional right to redefine marriage.

Minnesota's new law allowing same-sex couples to marry goes into effect Aug. 1.

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