SALT LAKE CITY – Marina Gomberg was in bed on Monday morning when she heard the news that the U.S. Supreme Court had effectively made gay marriage legal again in Utah and she immediately started dreaming that she and her wife could become mothers.
“We can actually start thinking about starting a family. We are going to be moms! It feels like a really big day, personally and for the rest of the state,” said Gomberg.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals in gay marriage cases involving five states — Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana — that had prohibited gay marriage, leaving intact lower court rulings striking down those bans.
For Gomberg, 30, an employee at the University of Utah, the move means that she and her wife can take the next step in their relationship.
Gomberg and Elenor Heyborne married in December of last year in Salt Lake City, among roughly 1,300 gay couples who wed after the state’s gay marriage ban was initially lifted by a federal judge, before such marriages were later put on hold pending appeals.
As a result of the Supreme Court decision on Monday, the number of U.S. states permitting gay marriage would jump from 19 to 24, likely soon to be followed by six more states that are bound by the regional federal appeals court rulings that had struck down bans. That would leave another 20 states that prohibit same-sex marriage.
For some same-sex couples, the decision means the state where they live must recognize the marriage they had performed out of state.
Amy Sandler, 37, of Munster, Indiana, said Monday’s announcement brings some peace of mind for her and her wife, Niki Quasney, 38, who has stage-four overian cancer, and their two toddlers.
Sandler and Quasney were married in Massachusetts in August 2013, but now Indiana, where they live, will have to recognize the marriage.
“It makes us know that we have legal backing like any other married couple, whether it’s recognizing our family, whether it’s moving our state forward socially, whether it’s walking into a hospital,” Sandler said.
Although the Supreme Court did not make a definitive ruling on gay marriage, Sandler felt the justices had sent a strong message.
In Norman, Oklahoma, ordained minister Jessica Fisher said she had been waiting for this news and is poised to perform a wedding ceremony for a same-sex couple she knows as soon as they are ready.
“I’m not sure if they will file for a marriage license today or not. They were very surprised to hear the news today, but it’s the ruling they have been waiting for,” Fisher said. “They asked me to become ordained so I could officiate their marriage, if it happened.”
Fisher said the couple were married in a civil ceremony this year in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, but have been unable to file the official paperwork and license in Oklahoma.
In Wisconsin a county clerk said he does not expect a flood of license filings, but those that come in will be issued.
“This ruling does not come with the fear that there will be another stay or appeal,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell in the county that includes Wisconsin’s state capital of Madison.
“If couples come, we will treat them like any other couple,” McDonell said.