NEW PALTZ – One day after the historic US Supreme Court ruling that officially recognized marriage equality in the United States, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center members and supporters gathered at Peace Park in New Paltz Thursday evening to celebrate the victory.
Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center Board President Jan Whitman said that all New York State residents who have same-sex spouses, or plan to in the future, are now afforded a slew of federal rights as married couples.
“As of yesterday you are afforded more than 1000 federal rights that you never had before, and that’s a big deal, you know, whether you talk about social security, or the case itself was about inheritance tax, there are more than 1000 things that we were being denied in the past that can no longer be denied to us,” Whitman said. Whitman said Peace Park is the site where nine years ago 24 same-sex couples were “married” by New Paltz Mayor Jason West who told those in attendance at Thursday’s celebration that there is still work to be done, but it is certainly time to celebrate because this ruling marks the beginning of a domino effect.
“For people under 30 it’s never been an issue but for those over 60 it’s been a big issue and so as those over 60 pass on and those in their 30s and 40s take over the legislatures and take over the city councils, sheer inertia will get this done,” West said.
Robert Meehan and his partner Steven said they have been together almost 38 years and were one of the couples married by Mayor West back in 2004.
Both said they were proud and happy to see the progress that has been made, but know it is not over yet as long as there are states in the U.S. that do not recognize their equality.