Locals celebrate, reflect on Supreme Court marriage ruling | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Locals celebrate, reflect on Supreme Court marriage ruling

Jack Barnwell
Heather Wright serves up food to BB Saunders during a Lake Tahoe Pride barbecue at Regan Beach on Sunday.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Like many across the country, south shore residents celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friday that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

The 5-4 decision means that 14 states in the South and Midwest can no longer enforce laws that prohibit same-sex marriage. The other 36 states and the District of Columbia already allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Tommy Todd, of the Lake Tahoe Pride steering committee, said the decision had profound meaning.

“It’s a special thing for so many couples because it means they can come out and get married,” Todd said.

Todd said it was exciting even though same-sex marriage has been legal in California for two years and in Nevada since October 2014.

California has long led the charge in recognizing or enacting anti-discrimination policies for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Todd said LGBT communities in other states weren’t so fortunate.

“In a lot of the other states where there is no discrimination protection, this (ruling) is likely the first step toward equal rights,” Todd said.

The Black Bear Inn on Ski Run Boulevard celebrated the decision by offering free marriage ceremonies to any couple – both gay or heterosexual – that stays two nights or more.

Owner Jerry Birdwell called it a nod to marriage equality for everyone.

“We’re elated and very excited it,” Birdwell said. “We’re very proud that the Supreme Court ruled the way they ruled for the dignity for all love and all marriages.”

BB Saunders, a Stateline, Nev. resident who said she was an ordained minister, called the ruling a good decision, especially from legal viewpoint.

“I think with gay marriage there is a gap where you can get married, receive your spouse’s benefits just as a heterosexual couple can,” Saunders said at a Lake Tahoe Pride barbecue on Sunday. “Allowing only civil marriage for gay couples hurts us all as citizens, because the lack of care that a gay couple can have.”

She said it was the first step in the right direction and questioned the religious reasons some people gave.

“I can’t find any place in the Bible where Jesus persecutes these people,” Saunders said. She added she distinguishes the difference between the Old and New testaments.

Saunders added while she was straight, some of her best friends were gay and lesbian. Still, she said she has concerns.

“Even though the Supreme Court has ruled this legal, states make up their own rules,” Saunders. “It worries me that there will be states that will have repercussions. That just irritates me.”

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