South Florida same-sex couples react to Supreme Court striking down Defense of Marriage Act

Gay couples hope to take advantage of benefits

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - Same-sex couples in South Florida are reacting on Wednesday to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and once again allow gay marriage in California.

A crowd of more than 100 people gathered in Downtown West Palm Beach carrying signs, cheering and chanting in support of the two decisions.

Couples like Tony Plakas and Jamie Foreman said they were overjoyed by the ruling and that their union is now recognized by the federal government.

"Husband? Partner? What do you call him? So I mean yeah, this is my spouse. That's who it is now," said Tony Plakas.

Plakas and Foreman have been together since 1997. The two make the trek to Cambridge, Massachusetts two years ago to take their vows.

While Florida does not recognize their marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision leads the way for the couple to take advantage of the same federal benefits as straight couples.
"I don't want to lose my home if I lose him and I don't want him to lose our home if he loses me. And that is a very real concern," said Plakas.

In addition to Social Security survivor benefits, the ruling also opens the door to immigration right and family leave.

"To me, it only strengthens marriage that two people would be willing to take care of one another until death do they part," said Plakas.

Both Plakas and Foreman said they are still trying to fully understand how the ruling will impact their lives.

"I mean nothing has changed other than I don't know what the heck we're going to do with our taxes now," said Foreman.

Plakas and Foreman said the work is not over and their sights, like many same-sex couples in Florida, is now on changing their state.

"I mean it's an enormous first hurdle. So yes, it's going to take more time. But it's not going to feel like it has felt," said Plakas.

Plakas said the debate continues over whether gay Floridians married outside of the state will be able to take advantage of federal marriage benefits. He said it most likely will open up the door for more lawsuits that could provide clarity.

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