Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Celebrate At Stonewall Inn

The fight for gay rights got its start in the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. On Wednesday, the Stonewall Inn opened early so patrons could await the Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Now, reaction to the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage. We're going to hear what some religious leaders think. First, to New York City's Stonewall Inn, where the court's decisions set off celebrations. The bar was the site of riots that launched the gay rights movement 44 years ago. Today, the inn opened early. A crowd waited for word on the rulings.

Anna Sale of member station WNYC was there.

ANNA SALE, BYLINE: Jo-Ann Shane and her wife, Mary Jo Kennedy, have been waiting for this decision for years. And they wanted to be at the Stonewall Inn when the news broke.

JO-ANN SHANE: We just want to be here because it's - and witness history.

SALE: The couple were plaintiffs in an early court challenge for gay marriage in New York. They married the day it became legal in the state two years ago. This morning, they stood outside the Stonewall with posters as their 24-year-old daughter closely monitored her phone.

SHANE: As the minutes go by and when word gets out, we'll know whether it's all good, partly good, a disaster. Hopefully, it'll be good.

SALE: Just after 10 a.m., there was news.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Whoo.

SHANE: What was the reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: This is too exciting.

SALE: People crowded into the Stonewall to hear the details.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS REPORT)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: DOMA is gone. This is a...

(APPLAUSE)

SALE: Every TV was turned to CNN. Champagne started flowing. Ashley Louise took a swig and wiped away tears.

ASHLEY LOUISE: I knew this day was coming, but for a really long time it seemed really, really far away. It's just so nice. It's like a weight kind of got lifted, that I don't feel like I'm a second-class citizen anymore.

SALE: In the lull between decisions, people stared at their phones. Then there were tweets that the California case was dismissed and puzzled looks about what that meant until a gay marriage lawyer explained it on TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV PROGRAM)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Marriage equality will be the law throughout this land.

(APPLAUSE)

SALE: The news that couples could marry again in California prompted more rounds of drinks and wide smiles. But for the already married couples in the crowd, the real thrill was knowing their country now considers them married too.

Mike Lawlor is a former legislator from Connecticut, who just married his husband, David Zakur, last weekend.

MIKE LAWLOR: If one of us died, no benefits. If one of us was not a United States citizen - you know, all that has changed overnight. DOMA is the big victory. Let the other states fight it out.

SALE: Those fights are for another day. Tonight, it's all about celebrating at the Stonewall Inn. For NPR News, I'm Anna Sale.

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