Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Dozens of people burst out in applause at Lost Dog Cafe' Wednesday as they learned of the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage.
News the federal government would recognize Claudia Stallman's three-year marriage and decades long partnership as valid left her stunned.
"For the last almost three years," Stallman said, "We have had no access to more than a 1,000 federal benefits conferred by federal marriage."
The Supreme Court struck down a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that restricted the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex couples as it already provides to heterosexual couples.
Stallman watched with others in her community as the Supreme Court declared "equal liberty" for gay and lesbian marriages.
"This means that the stigmatizing and the de-legitimizing effect of DOMA, the defense of marriage act, is wiped away," she said.
Carrie Randall and Suzanne Smith watched with their 4-year-old daughter Emerson.
"It feels like we're accepted," Smith said. "We always know we have been (accepted) by our community, but it gives us more validation and it's time."
But Stephen Hayford, of the New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, an anti-gay organization, said the court made a mistake not affirming what he calls traditional marriage.
"No matter how well meaning two fathers or two mothers may be," Hayford said, "Neither father can be a mother, and neither of the two moms can be a father."
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, Sean Massey, former Binghamton Councilman and director of the Binghamton Human Rights Coalition and a same-sex spouse, said there's a long way to go.
"We still have so many states in the country where our marriage isn't recognized," Massey said, "And we need it to be."
But Massey said the federal recognition sets a strong precedent.
"Now we can take that and challenge these state laws that are discriminatory," he said.
The other major decision involved a state law in California.
A lawsuit challenged the voter-approved gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8.
The High Court dismissed the case and allowed a lower court ruling stand that the voter approved referendum violated California's constitution.
The action essentially legalizes gay marriage in the most populous state in the Union, and makes gay marriage legally available to about 30 percent of the U.S. population.