Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage benefits stirs debate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage benefits stirs debate in Mid-South

(WMC-TV) - The U.S. Supreme Court made two major rulings regarding same-sex couples Wednesday. It struck down a federal law that prevented married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits like other married couples. Justices also ruled that same-sex marriage can be legal in the state of California.

The rulings are stirring up discussion throughout the Mid-South.

There are still countless legal kinks to work out, but it is an emotional day on both sides of the divisive issue.

At the Memphis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community center, supportive honks rang out for Executive Director Will Batts.

"This is a huge day for us. This is a great day," he said.

The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, in theory, granting equal legal benefits to same-sex married couples.

"I sent a text to my partner today of 15 years and told him that DOMA is dead, and I really started to tear up," said Batts.

Reverend Williams Owens says his organization, the Coalition of African-American Pastors will mobilize and travel the country in defense of "family" regardless of the Supreme Court's ruling.

"It is disheartening," said Rev. William Owens, Coalition of African-American Pastors. "We are disgusted. We think the Supreme Court made a very bad decision. And we will fight."

He continued, "I know the difference between having a father at home and a mother in the home. And there's no way, no natural way, a man can be a mother and there's no way a female can be a father. And a child needs both."

Batts disagrees. He says his family is his business and his only.

"This doesn't affect them at all. This is about me and my partner," he said.

State laws still present significant hurdles, meaning little will change in Tennessee right now.

But Batts is optimistic.

"I feel really positive," he said. "I feel that there is momentum is on our side. We are on the right side of history."

Batts says the LGBT community plans to celebrate tonight, but go right back to the fight tomorrow. Meanwhile, CAAP vows to fight back.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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