The Supreme Court is known for saving its biggest rulings for last, and this term proved no exception. In two landmark 5-4 rulings, justices struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, and California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state.
Bill Holston, director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, was elated about the June 26 decisions.
"The door is now open for people who love each other and happen to be in a same sex relationship to live like any other loving, married couple," Bill Holston says.
"The door is now open for people who love each other and happen to be in a same sex relationship to live like any other loving, married couple." Holston said from his Dallas office. "It's a great day."
Holston is looking forward to the rulings having an impact on HRI clients who come from countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
"The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity," the DOMA opinion reads.
Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion vacating Proposition 8.
"Because we find that petitioners do not have standing, we have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the Ninth Circuit," the Prop. 8 opinion reads.
The narrow decision upholds an initial California court ruling that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings took to Twitter to proclaim his support. "Right body, highest court in U.S., made it clear that equality prevails. Congrats!" Rawlings wrote around 10 am.
But not everyone is happy about the news. Robert Jeffress, the outspoken pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, condemned the rulings.
"The high court bases its decisions on the shifting sands of public opinion rather than enduring legal and moral principles," Jeffress said in a statement, adding " If you start expanding the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, where do you stop?"
Gay marriage is still banned in Texas as well as the majority of states, but the DOMA decision demands that the federal government recognize gay marriages from states that have legalized it. That group, which numbers a dozen, now includes California. Same-sex married couples will be eligible to receive Social Security survivors' benefits, health insurance benefits and a host of privileges for immigration and tax purposes that have previously been reserved for heterosexual couples.