WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Several LGBT Westchester natives with rainbow flags and signs of support congregated Wednesday night to celebrate their new-found right.
The LOFT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Services Center hosted a party in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the dismissal of California's Proposition 8. For New Yorkers, the decision to strike down DOMA means that same-sex married couples will now be allowed the same benefits and rights as heterosexual couples without exception. Attendees hugged, ate rainbow-frosted cake and congratulated one another throughout the halls of the center, which were decorated with rainbow paper lanterns and signs with messages such as “I do support marriage equality, and so does the Supreme Court!” Many of those in attendance currently volunteer with the center, which puts on several events and hosts support groups every week for LGBT individuals and youth in the Lower Hudson Valley.
David Juhren, executive director of LOFT, said the decision was a big victory for the center – which has been open for 30 years.
“(Looking toward the future) We will still continue to do advocacy work and work closely with other states that want marriage equality passed,” he said. Shonnie Isler-Acers, 40, who is a volunteer at the center, said she is very excited about the decision, and is thrilled that she and her wife will be protected under the law and have the same rights as other married couples. However, she voiced the opinion of many LGBT people, who feel that the Supreme Court should have made a bigger, nationwide argument for marriage equality. “It is not exactly what we wanted but it was a very big and important step in the right direction,” she said. Tony Carlyle, a 37-year old from White Plains came with a t-shirt that read, “Two Dads are Better Than None.”
“I personally don’t have someone to marry immediately, but I’m all for equal rights. I feel especially bad for those people who don’t have rights. It always hurts my heart," he said. "So for me, personally, of course it’s big for all of us that it impacts. I’m so excited for those people, whose lives are about to change in a great way."
Carlyle said he was particularly interested in how the changes will affect military families and their government aid. Overall, the patrons of the LOFT center expressed tremendous gratitude toward the Supreme Court for its decisions, and demonstrated a clear objective to keep the ball rolling in the pursuit of marriage equality. The LOFT center is located at 252 Bryant Ave. in White Plains. More information can be found at www.loftgaycenter.org.
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