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Local groups respond, criticize Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage

By Nadine Maeser, nmaeser@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jun 26 2013 05:17:39 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 26 2013 05:22:59 PM EDT
Supreme Court makes big decision on same-sex marriage

CBS News

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

Many are calling the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage a historic milestone.

Thirteen states, including Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and Delaware as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws allowing marriage for same-sex couples.

Because of today's Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, same-sex couples married in these states are now entitled to federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

Virginia was not named in Wednesday’s decision and the ban on same-sex marriage still remains in place, but two local groups in our community are calling the Supreme Court decision “monumental."

The decision has brought out strong opinions and feelings on both sides and is dividing Virginia.

"I think we're moving into an unchartered territory that is not good for this country," said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life and family.

"Very monumental,” said Roanoke Diversity Center Vice Chairman Richard Sifton. “Definitely a big day in the history of the gay rights movement."

Wednesday's decision means same-sex couples who marry in states where it's legal will now be treated like heterosexual couples by the federal government.

Sifton said the decision will change lives.

"The adopted children and natural children of the LGBT people they will get, I think, the best benefit of all," he said.

But others consider it a setback for our country's highest court.

"I think this is a monumental decision, but I also think it's a dark day in the history of the Supreme Court," said Staver.

Staver said it's only a matter of time before Virginia starts to feel the negative impact of Wednesday’s decision.

"As soon as someone moves to Virginia that is from another state that has same sex marriage and requests federal recognition of that from certain benefits, we're going to have litigation in Virginia,” he said. “That's going to start right away."

Same-sex marriage advocates say there is still a lot of work to be done, but they agree this is a step in the right direction.

"The striking down of DOMA is clearly a victory,” said Sifton. “Regrettably, again, without moving the states forward that do not have marriage benefits, without an attempt to move them forward, that is not a gain for our communities."