NOLANVILLE — Irene Andrews was gardening Wednesday morning when she heard a scream.
Andrews, a Nolanville resident, thought it might be an emergency, but it turned out to be her partner of 29 years reacting to the news. The Defense of Marriage Act, the federal legislation that allowed the federal government to not recognize same-sex marriages had been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“She said, ‘DOMA, DOMA’s gone down!’” Andrews said. “I ran into the house; we sat and watched the TV and jumped up and down.”
The court also struck a blow against conservatives by allowing gay marriages to resume in California. However, the impact of that case will likely remain isolated to the West Coast state.
The full impact of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling has not been fully determined in states where same-sex marriage is not legal, including Texas.
The executive director of Equality Texas, a group that lobbies and advocates for lesbian and gay issues, said same-sex couples who are legally married in the 12 states that permit it may become immediately eligible for federal benefits, such as tax breaks.
The director, Chuck Smith, said a lot of gray area remains from one federal department to another.
“We would expect there would likely be some activity by the Obama administration either administratively or legislatively to clean that up and make that more standardized,” Smith said.
The immediate impact of the court’s decision on military same-sex couples at Fort Hood is unclear.
“We will execute orders and abide by the law,” Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, Fort Hood’s senior post commander, said Wednesday when asked about the DOMA ruling. “We’ll do what the Army asks us to do and do what is right by soldiers and families.”
Andrews and her partner, Joan Hinshaw, already planned to travel to Washington state to be married July 20. Now they may be able to return to Texas with a certificate more valuable than a piece of paper.
State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, disagreed with the rulings, calling them “unfortunate.”
“I think marriage should be one man and one woman,” Aycock said. “God has been clear about that forever.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said the court overreached in both rulings.
“Nothing in the Constitution compelled this result, and, once again, the court has chosen to substitute its own views of public policy for the democratically expressed will of the voters,” Cruz stated in a news release.
Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, refused to comment on the rulings.
The co-chair of a local political committee affiliated with Bell County Democrats that advocates for marriage equality said more work needs to be done.
“I hope, someday, to count Texas as one of the states that recognizes marriage equality either through the ballot box, legislative or through the courts,” stated Dion McFall. “I am extremely hopeful LGBT Texans will marry soon.”