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Locals celebrate as Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage 

Members of local LGBT community talk about the decision

— In San Luis Obispo County, as in the rest of the nation, citizens were glued to their media devices awaiting the Supreme Court decision that now recognizes same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

The Supreme Court made its decision in four cases all asserting the constitutional right of same-sex  marriage, including one filed by James Obergefell, who sued when the state of Ohio refused to recognize his marriage to John Arthur, who died in 2013. Arthur was listed as single on his death certificate.

Debra and Donna Mason on their wedding day in 2008 in California.   Photo courtesy of Debra and Donna Mason

Debra and Donna Mason on their wedding day in 2008 in California. Photo courtesy of Debra and Donna Mason.

The vote was 5-4 in favor of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage with justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan voting for and justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts dissenting.

“I have been sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for this decision to come,” said Debra Mason of Morro Bay, who has been married to her wife, Donna, since 2008. “Today, people’s minds and hearts have changed, and we have slowly moved toward understanding that love is for everyone and to be able to share that love in marriage is now a privilege and honor for all, not just a select few.”

Mason reflected on the long road that led to today’s court ruling. “We have come along way from the days where we hid our relationship from everyone in fear of the repercussions,” she said. “There are still those who believe differently and do not support this decision; I honor their different opinions, although I hope that opinion is not one of hate. We have gone to the highest court in the land, argued every point of view from both sides, and left it for the judges to decide. Their decision is that those who choose to love and support each other in a non-traditional way is just as important as the traditional way. We will go forth from here, we will marry, have families; we will pay taxes and support our country and its people. We will do all this as we did before with only one difference — our love and marriage exists in the eyes of our government. Change can happen; love does overcome.”

Scott Holt, who lives in Paso Robles with his partner, Jesse, talked about what the court decision means to him.

“When I came out, it was the early 90s, so I thought I’d never be able to get married,” Holt said. “With this decision, there is a feeling of safety and security we didn’t have beforehand. It means one thing when the state we live in accepts same-sex marriage and makes it into a law — It’s a whole other thing when our country does it. It’s a level of acceptance you can’t get with just state approval; the Supreme Court decision transcends that. In a way, it’s a feeling of empowerment I wasn’t able to feel before; it’s a way of life we weren’t able to fully engage or experience in the past. It’s life-change in many respects.”

Kitty Arosteguy who owns and operates The Spa Central Coast in Paso Robles described her feelings on the decision.

“It means national acceptance and true marriage equality in America; it is a truly beautiful and love-filled day for the LGBT community,” she said. “I hope and believe that an amazing example of love and acceptance such as this is a message, not only to my fellow gay Americans but gay people all over the world to release the fear and embrace the love and acceptance. For me personally, well I’m 52 now, and the reality for me has always been I can’t get married, so I have always just had to dream of it … Now I have the same choices as any other American, and it feels so good. I’m smiling and so grateful.”


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