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Effect of US Supreme Court Rulings Will Have Lesser Effect in Delaware Valley

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Today's US Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8 has impact only on same-sex couples in California, but the decision on the Defense of Marriage Act could have a broader effect (see related story).

What could that ruling mean for same-sex couples in our area?

"That doesn't mean that any people who couldn't get married yesterday can get married today," notes University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt, who says the Supreme Court decision has little impact on same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, which has a law that rejects same-sex marriages even if a couple gets married in a state where it is legal.

"You're married in New York, you get federal benefits.  You come to Pennsylvania, you're not married anymore and you no longer get federal benefits," Roosevelt explains.

He says it's likely the same in states such as New Jersey and Delaware, which only recognize civil unions.  Gay marriage takes full effect in Delaware on July 1st.

Rebecca Levin, co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association's LGBT Rights Committee, says the next steps could be courtroom brawls, especially where same-sex marriage is prohibited.

"There's going to be a state of litigation, certainly," she said today.  "The court's ruling has some good language about how laws like DOMA hurt same-sex couples and hurts families."

Despite the limited effect in the Delaware Valley, many in the LGBT community still call the ruling a victory.

"Today is just the beginning of us seeing the rest of our rights come to us, slowly but surely," said Angela Giampolo, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia ("GALLOP"), today.

"A cause for great celebration for all those that support diversity and inclusion," says Dan Clifford, a Norristown family lawyer and openly gay man living in a same-sex relationship.

"Never in my 44 years of activism did I ever believe that such a day would come," says Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News.

Meanwhile, spokesperson Amy Hill of the Catholic Conference, which opposes gay marriage, says their fight will continue on a state-by-state level.

"We are encouraged that the Supreme Court in both cases recognized the rights of states," she tells KYW Newsradio.

Gay activists and allies say they will continue to push for more equal rights.

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