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By JEFFERSON SIEGEL AND LAEL HINES | It’s not often that a Supreme Court ruling can set hearts aflutter and joyous crowds into the streets. However, the court’s ruling on Wednesday, striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, sent ecstatic shockwaves across the country, especially on Christopher St. in the West Village.
Hundreds filled the block in front of the historic Stonewall Inn Wednesday evening for speeches by politicians, lawyers who fought to overturn the act, and Edie Windsor herself, the Village resident whose original lawsuit was spurred by the death of her late wife, Thea Spyer. Upon Spyer’s death, Windsor owed $360,000 in estate taxes, money she wouldn’t have owed if the government had recognized gay marriage then.
After an hour of speeches by the likes of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, the celebrations began. Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Anthony Weiner spoke with people, while mobs made their way into the Stonewall and other local bars for a night of celebratory imbibing.
Earlier, outside the bar, a man who gave his name as Brian exulted, “Hooray! It’s about time! We’ve been married for 16 years but now tax time will be so much easier. Now very practical legal things like Social Security will become so much simpler!”
Standing beside him, James added, “This is the best and largest federal step we can take. However, we also need to focus on the change that still needs to come. Gays still aren’t able to donate blood or be fully respected in the workplace. Thirty-seven states still need to change.”