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Local gay community leaders react to Supreme Court decision

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Jun 26 2013 04:56:04 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 26 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT

Two Supreme Court rulings regarding DOMA and Prop 8 are being hailed as victories by those supporting gay marriage.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

Two Supreme Court rulings are being hailed as victories by those supporting gay marriage.

On Wednesday, the court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act, blocking federal marriage benefits to same sex spouses, is unconstitutional.

Another ruling upheld the decision that California's Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.

News 5 found out some in our local gay community are saying this is a giant leap towards equality.

A decision made in Washington, D.C. is sending shockwaves of hope to Johnson City, Tennessee.

"It’s a big step forward," said Kenn Lyon.

Kenn Lyon and John Baker, directors of the Pride Community Center of the Tri-Cities, are reveling in what they call a major victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. "It's a huge movement as far as equal rights for us across the nation. It's exciting to see that kind of consciousness and awareness being brought forth on a federal level, because this is huge," Lyon told News 5.

In Wednesday's two rulings, the Supreme Court essentially struck down a provision of a federal law that denied federal benefits to gay married couples and upheld that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

While the legislation doesn't specifically impact Tennessee or Virginia, since neither state allows gay marriage, it's a potential precedent these men look forward to. "I think once the federal [government] changes that, I think that allows the states to have more opportunity and possibility have the ability to go ahead and say, yes [to] same sex marriage, [and that] marriage is marriage, and who you choose to love is your choice," said John Baker.

Lyon said he hopes these rulings extend beyond the law and fosters a cultural change here at home. "There are still subtle micro-aggressions that happen continually throughout the day, even little slights that are directed at you, jokes people make, things that say, 'no, you are not equal to us'," said Lyon.

It's equality for everyone these men will continue to fight for. "This nation was founded on diversity, and I think some people tend to want to put everybody in little categories rather than embracing the diversity and celebrating the diversity of the possibilities in this wonderful country of ours," said Baker.