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Plaintiffs 'Feel Free' After Supreme Court Rules On Same-Sex Marriage


You could call them accidental activists, the 12 couples and two widowers who filed lawsuits against bans on same-sex marriage. Accidental because they didn't intend to be - they didn't intend to be at the center of a nationwide legal battle, but each had their reasons.


One couple sued to have their marriage recognized under Tennessee law so that they could both be parents to their daughter, Emelia.

VALERIA TANCO: This is Valeria Tanco and I'm here with my wife, Sophy Jesty, and I still get goose bumps and I was riding in my car to drop Emelia off at day care and crying and laughing and more crying and just amazed.

SOPHY JESTY: It's incredible. It's like - this is Sophy - I just, I feel like there's been an enormous weight lifted off of me. I feel free. I feel - I feel free.

MARTIN: Jesty says she's celebrating the idea that their 1-year-old daughter will grow up in a different world than they did.

JESTY: The most incredible thing is that in the memories that she'll make, she won't remember the time when we weren't considered an equal family.

MARTIN: In Michigan, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse have held off getting married, hopeful that the Supreme Court would make it the law of the land. They spoke to us from the National Marriage Challenge headquarters in Ann Arbor.


APRIL DEBOER: Sorry. (Laughter). Everybody is just excited. I believe that somebody just walked by the door who just got their marriage license, so I believe that they are performing marriages out in the courts just outside the building that we're in.

CORNISH: They plan on marrying, but it won't be any time soon. The real trouble now will be in the wedding planning. That's because, they joke, they could be expecting several hundred thousand guests.

MARTIN: All of the families we spoke with today said the ruling was important because of family. Paul Campion and Randy Johnson were married in New York, but their marriage wasn't recognized in Kentucky where they live.

CORNISH: They have four children, but legally, only one of them could be listed on the birth certificate. Here's Campion.

PAUL CAMPION: You know, it felt like a big burden had come off our shoulders. We've been together almost 24 years. Our oldest two kids that we've had since birth are 20 years old. And while this process began just a couple years ago, it was nice to finally come to this conclusion, and it was just very overwhelmingly - overwhelming, emotionally, for all of us.

CORNISH: And Randy Johnson added this...

RANDY JOHNSON: We know how significant this is to our family and to many, many, many families similar to ours. And this is really such a huge opportunity for all of those other families to focus their efforts on strengthening their family rather than protecting them from discriminatory laws.

CORNISH: The accidental activists we reached today, their lawsuits resulted in today's ruling by the Supreme Court.

MARTIN: We heard from Randy Johnson, Paul Campion, April DeBoer, Jayne Rowse, Sophy Jesty and Val Tanco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.