Posted: Jun 26, 2013 12:36 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Jun 26, 2013 4:31 PM
HELENA - A Wednesday ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is a huge victory for those who have been fighting for marriage equality.
A small group of civil rights activists cheered on the Capitol steps in Helena as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.
In states where same-sex marriage is legal, gay couples will now be granted the same financial, tax and employment benefits as heterosexual couples.
While it is a major national victory for gay individuals, Kevin Hamm says there are still battles to be won in Montana.
"We have a constitutional amendment that was passed in 2003 that states that marriage is between one man and one woman. What that means is that I am effectively less than a full citizen. It's important for us to get these rights in any state, so we can get these rights in every state," Hamm said.
The state's constitution would need to be changed in order for same-sex couples to be granted the same benefits in Montana.
Sen. Max Baucus (D) issued a statement following the Supreme Court ruling.
"Today is a proud day in American history when we can say to all Montanans, Americans and their children: your love and your family are just as good as everyone else's under the law. For too long, same-sex couples and their children have been denied more than 1,000 federal rights and obligations that married couples enjoy. That was wrong. In the United States of America, no one should be treated as a second class citizen simply because of who they choose to love," Baucus said. "I believe each of us has a moral obligation to leave this place in better shape than we found it, and today's decision puts our country on the right side of history. Now it's time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and guarantee all Montanans the same opportunity to succeed in the workplace."
Sen. Jon Tester (D) took to social media to express his opinion.
"Montanans deserve the freedom to choose whom they love. Todays #SCOTUS decision affirms that. RT to join Jon in Support of #marriageequality," a tweet from his official Twitter account read.
Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) issued this statement today:
"I am disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling today. Marriage, as the union of one man and one woman, matters for our children, and I remain a strong believer in defending the family. While I do not agree with the Court's ruling concerning the application of federal benefits, I am encouraged that the Court did not rule against states' rights, ensuring that the voice of the people, not a ruling from a court, is the driving force behind marriage laws in Montana and the other states."