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Local LGBTQ organizations, advocates react to Supreme Court decision

By Korey Wilson for the Norwalk Hour

NORWALK -- After becoming legal in Connecticut nearly seven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

Wilton couple Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis, who married nearly six years ago, was elated to hear Friday's decision.

"We got the news and wept," said Busch. "This is really such a great, great day for fairness and it's a great day for love. I said to Stephen, 'I wish I could just marry you all over again.'"

Davis added, "I don't think I ever imagined in my life that this day would come until very recently and it was still up in the air whether this would happen."

Same-sex marriage in Connecticut has been legally recognized since Nov. 2008, following a state court decision that found the state's civil unions failed to provide same-sex couples with rights and privileges equivalent to those of marriage.

Busch and Davis were among a group of same-sex couples who sued Connecticut in Aug. 2004 for the right to marry. The group won in October 2008 and Connecticut became the third state to recognize same-sex marriage after Massachusetts and California.

"A lawyer that represented us in the Connecticut case, Mary Bonauto, helped argue the Supreme Court case and we're so proud of her. She's like our Joan of Ark. She's extraordinary and she's been there every step of the way," said Busch.

The two were married on Nov. 29, 2009 on the 20th anniversary of their relationship, in a large ceremony.

"I'm just so happy for the country and how they managed to do this," said Elijah Davis Busch, their 12-year-old son. "It's a really big step and I love that this country is doing this. It's a whole new world."

Friday's Supreme Court decision is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage and gay rights.

The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration.

"I'm overwhelmed with happiness on this historic occasion," said Anthony Crisci, executive director of Triangle Community Center. "This decision will bring joy to families across the United States for generations to come. This is about progress and about true equality under the law."

Triangle Community Center, a Norwalk-based organization, serves and engages thousands of LGBTQ individuals throughout Fairfield County and the state.

"This is a monumental and historic day," Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, said in a statement.

"I am deeply moved by the millions of men and women who have campaigned tirelessly to change hearts and minds across the country, and grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized that the right to love and marry is fundamental. The fight for equality and against discrimination is never over, but today's decision is a huge victory."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy directed the LGBT pride flag to be flown at the Governor's Residence in Hartford in recognition of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday.

"Today's decision marks a historic moment in U.S. history and reaffirms everything that this great nation stands for equality, liberty, and justice for all. It's a day that Americans across our state and country can celebrate," said Malloy.

"While the State of Connecticut has recognized marriage for same-sex couples since 2008, today's ruling means that our residents cannot lose their marriage rights while traveling from state to state. In short, couples will get the equality under the law that they rightfully deserve."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.