June 26 - Landmark decisions supporting gay marriage rights spark celebrations outside the Supreme Court and in New York City. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
STORY: Celebrations after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday handed a significant victory to gay rights advocates by ruling that married gay men and women are eligible for federal benefits and paving the way for same-sex marriage in California. The two cases, both decided on 5-4 votes, concerned the constitutionality of a key part of a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that denied benefits to same-sex married couples and a California state law enacted in 2008, called Proposition 8, that banned gay marriage. The court struck down a central part of DOMA and let stand a lower-court ruling throwing out California's voter-approved ban on gay marriage. The Supreme Court rulings come amid rapid progress for advocates of gay marriage in recent months and years in the United States and internationally. Opinion polls show a steady increase in U.S. public support for gay marriage. Gay marriage is an issue that stirs cultural, religious and political passions in the United States as elsewhere. Gay marriage advocates celebrated outside the courthouse. To celebrate the historic moment, New Yorkers gathered at the nearby Stonewall Inn Tavern where the American gay rights movement began in 1969. Among them was healthcare worker Derek Williams, who watched the ruling with his partner Greg Towle. "I didn't think I was going to be this emotional," Williams told Reuters. "We actually just came down here because we really wanted to be in a place where history was made, as history is made. And as it's started to go through me right now, I am really realizing how important of a decision this is." Individual members of Congress - Democrats and Republicans - also voiced new support for gay marriage this year.