Southern New Englanders reacted Wednesday to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that legally married gay couples are entitled to the same federal benefits available to straight couples, striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The court also cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California.
"Today's Supreme Court decisions affirm that bigotry and discrimination are inconsistent with our great American values and will not be tolerated in our country," said U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, who is gay.
Christopher Plante of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage said his organization is disappointed with the court's action.
"We're not saying they shouldn't get the same benefits, but what we are saying is that where there are perceived inequalities in the law, that we should by a matter of policy work on them one by one rather than making some sort of blanket statement that we can redefine marriage," Plante said.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to shoot down a provision of DOMA that didn't afford legally married same-sex couples the same federal rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to things like filing joint taxes and earning social security benefits.
"It's another sign towards progress and a movement forward at a time when our country continues to move forward in accepting all loving and committed couples," said Ray Sullivan of Marriage Equality Rhode Island.
Same-sex marriage becomes lawful in Rhode Island on Aug. 1. Thirteen states across the union have same-sex marriage legislation in place. Twenty-nine other states have constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage. Six states have laws that ban it. Two states neither allow gay marriage nor ban it.
"The country has shifted rapidly, and they're shifting in the direction of equal rights for all couples," Sullivan said.
A random sampling of people in downtown Providence spoke in favor of marriage equality.
"I think it's evolved a lot. If they're working and they're married, who cares. I mean, come on, it's a new age," said Gary Chamblee of Providence.
"If somebody's married to somebody, and that person dies, I feel as though they're entitled to that. Other than that, I'm for it," said Kevin Vines of Providence.
Bishop Thomas Tobin, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, had no comment.