Tacoma’s first openly gay city councilman was among the first to hear news of today’s Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage to be a legal right in all 50 states.
Councilman Ryan Mello was outside the court, joining a rally of hundreds of gay marriage supporters. Many of them rushed the court steps when they learned the five justices had sided with couples seeking the right to marry in states that had barred same-sex marriage.
“Capitol police couldn’t do anything about it,” Mello said. “The sea of people rushed the steps. There was chanting. The Washington, D.C. gay men’s chorus was singing the national anthem. It was really quite amazing.”
He was one of many South Sound gay and lesbian leaders who are celebrating the decision. It won’t change much in Washington state because voters legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, but it’s a national recognition of their right to marry. It also eases their concerns about traveling in states that have not recognized same-sex unions.
“What the opinion is all about is respect, dignity, justice and equality, so everyone receives equal treatment. That’s very powerful” said state Democratic Rep. Christine Kilduff of University Place.
For state Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, the news was so good that she forgot where she parked when she dropped her son off at the airport this morning.
“It rocked me in a good way,” said Jinkins, who married her partner of more than 25 years in 2013.
The moment was extra sweet when her 14-year-old son told her in the car that he needed to take a moment to remember where he was when he heard the news.
“It’s a great day,” she said. “This ruling, it wasn’t just a ruling about law. On a lot of levels, what the Supreme Court is saying is ‘We see you. We see lesbians and gays in the U.S., and we think you contribute as much as anybody. We think you should have the same rights as everybody.’”
Her family is planning a trip to visit relatives in Tennessee this summer. That’s one of the states that did not recognize same-sex marriage. Today’s ruling means the family might not have to be so careful about bringing documents to prove the legality of their relationship when they travel out of state.
“Tennessee would be a state where we wouldn’t have any recognition at all,” she said.
Same-sex marriage supporters today are planning to gather at the Rainbow Center in Tacoma at 5 p.m. to begin a march to the Union Station federal court house. It’ll start at the center, 2215 Pacific Ave.