Jubilation, tears for California couples after gay marriage ruling

Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:58pm EDT

(From L) Rachel Wald, Kate Lummus, Virginia Sin and Gretchen Menter watch coverage of the the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, at the Stonewall Inn in New York June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(From L) Rachel Wald, Kate Lummus, Virginia Sin and Gretchen Menter watch coverage of the the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, at the Stonewall Inn in New York June 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The morning routine at Erin Lindsay and Samantha Westcott's house in the leafy Los Angeles suburb of Sierra Madre was well under way on Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court issued its widely anticipated rulings on same-sex marriage.

Shortly before the expected 7 a.m. announcement, Wescott, 45, had already dashed off to work, and their daughter, Anneliese, age 9, was getting ready for summer camp.

Thirteen-year-old Sophie dashed into the bedroom where Lindsay was getting dressed and asked: "Have you heard yet, Mama? It's 6:57."

Minutes later, the court handed down its opinions: The Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits and filing joint tax returns, was declared unconstitutional. And the high court let stand a lower-court decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex marriage in the most populous U.S. state.

Lindsay, 49, who married Wescott during a brief window in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state, burst into tears. Fearing Sophie might misunderstand, she quickly gave her daughter a high-five to make it absolutely clear: their world had changed for the better.

Congratulations and cheers from well-wishers immediately flooded Lindsay's email inbox. Her cellphone rang as she tried to get her kids dressed and to camp.

She said the most immediate effect of the ruling would be on to taxes and Social Security - two areas of life where she and her spouse now enjoyed parity with all other married couples.

"For the last several years we had to do my taxes and Sam's taxes independently - then we had to redo them as a married couple for the state of California," she said.

She picked an outfit from her closet that would be fitting for the day - the lacey white blouse she had worn for her wedding five years earlier.

A continent away, a California couple on vacation in New York stared at the online website SCOTUSblog.com, which tracks Supreme Court action, and let out a mutual whoop.

Paul Mowry, a Presbyterian minister, has performed countless weddings in the seaside San Francisco suburb where he lives with his partner of 27 years, Joe Silverman. A wedding for the two of them had been more of a dream - until Wednesday.

"Paul is the love of my life, and this is deeply, deeply validating," Silverman, 50, said.

They tried to keep their jubilations quiet because everyone was asleep at Silverman cousin's home on New York's Lower East Side, where they were staying, but their joy was obvious.

"I'm getting the gift registry going," said Mowry, 51. Their adopted daughter, Ellie, who is 6, will be the flower girl.

(Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Steve Gorman and Nick Zieminski)