ABILENE, Texas - Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The act, passed by Congress in 1996, denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.
The high court also refused to change a lower-court ruling that struck down Prop 8, a California law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
"I would not have believed 10 years ago that I would've lived to see this day, but I did," said Margaret Walker, who married her partner Monica in Canada in 2005.
After the Supreme Court ruled the DOMA was unconstitutional, many same sex couples celebrated.
"We cried, because it was like we'd been invisible as a family for so many years and now our government said you matter," said Walker, senior pastor at Exodus Metropolitan Community Church in Abilene.
Since getting married eight years ago, Walker has been denied many benefits given to straight couples.
"The hospital can turn you away and say that if your partners dying you can't be by their side," Walker said.
Many Texas lawmakers disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling.
"I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's decisions today, as I believe marriage is between one man and one woman," U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said in a statement. "Federal legal recognition should be reserved for traditional marriage, because that is what best protects our families and our children."
"I am disappointed in the Supreme Court's decisions today," U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) said. "I have a deep and abiding belief that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman – and I do not believe that it is the responsibility or the duty of government to alter the institution of marriage."
Walker said she doesn't blame opponents for their views, but she disagrees with them.
"I think that's their right to believe that and I think it's their church's right to bless only a male and female union, but we're not talking about love. We're talking about civil rights," Walker said.
For thousands of couples who live in states where same-sex marriage isn't recognized, such as Texas, the Supreme Court's ruling won't immediately grant them federal benefits.
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