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What DOMA ruling means for a SETX business owner
BEAUMONT-By: Leslie Rangel
Same sex couples, marriage and federal benefits are all topics that generate strong opinions.
Today, the Supreme Court made history striking down a portion of the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.
The court says same sex couples that are legally married can no longer be denied federal benefits.
That includes filing joint tax returns and getting social security benefits.
We spoke with many people in the gay community in Southeast Texas, all have strong opinions on how the ruling would impact thier lives.
Many of them declined to go on camera, for fear of judgement from family, friends, church members or even the fear of losing their jobs.
One man did speak with us, saying there was no need to hide his identity.
Instead he hopes it will help others in his shoes feel more comfortable.
John Alden Wright owns Alden Hair Saolon on Calder.
He's married, involved in his church and likes collecting antiques. He's also gay.
"We don't have to tell people we're gay, you know because if someone comes in and talks to me, well how long have you known you were straight?" Wright says.
He's been with his partner, Bernie for more than 40 years. The couple was legally married in Iowa 4 years ago.
"Having been in a relationship for 40 plus years, you know, you've had to hide, lie all these things to be employable, not to be hated by family, friends," Wright says.
Hiding things about his relationship like affection.
"There are so many times when you're out and you just want to grab his hand and you can't in public because your afraid of what they'll say," Wright said, fighting back tears.
Today he feels things have changed.
The Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples that are legally married now have federal benefits.
For them it means something as simple as being allowed to visit your spouse in the hospital, is legal.
"To think that person would have to die without you there, it's so wrong for anyone to have to say you're not allowed," Wright says. "You feel less than a normal citizen, you just feel like if you're thought of badly so you lie about yourself and now maybe we won't have to lie anymore."
For John, it's a basic right he says he and his partner deserve.
"Now maybe we can be looked upon just as normal people. The fight, maybe the fight will be over and their will be no more discrimination," Wright says.
There are about 130,000 married same-sex couples in the US who were treated as unmarried under federal law until today.
The Supreme Court also dismissed the Proposition 8 case from Caliornia. It now clears the way for same sex marriage to resume in California.
To check out some more of what John told KFDM News, watch some of the raw interview here part 1 and part 2.