Carroll County News

Carroll residents react to Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling

Birdie's Cafe in Westminster displayed a rainbow flag after the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling Friday affirming gay marriage in all 50 states.

Matt Gibbons shed tears of joy Friday morning when he heard about the U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the right to same-sex marriage.

"In my lifetime, I thought this would never happen," the 58-year-old Union Bridge resident said. "It was just one of these injustices that was always going to continue and we would only get small victories on that would make life a little more bearable, so this is tremendous."


Gay marriage became legal in Maryland in 2013 when Question 6, a same-sex marriage referendum, was approved; that followed the passage by the General Assembly in 2012 of the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which legalized gay marriage. But Friday's ruling will require all 50 states to allow same-sex marriage.

Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, disagreed with the ruling but was not surprised.


"I guess considering the activism that our Supreme Court seems to be bent on right now, I guess I am not entirely surprised," Shoemaker said. "They are charged with the task, under a couple of hundred years of precedent, with interpreting the law of the land. I don't necessarily agree, but their decision is what it is."

Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, said she wasn't as concerned with the content of the ruling as she was with "taking away states' rights."

"I truly believe that states have the rights to decide these things," Krebs said. "That's my concern — it's with states' rights and federalism — and they've been taking this away in other decisions as well."

The decision affirming the right to same-sex marriage same on a 5-4 vote. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "No union is more profound than marriage." Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas were in opposition.

In Westminster, Sherri Hosfeld-Joseph, owner of Birdie's Cafe, proudly displayed the rainbow flag in front of her store on Friday to celebrate the decision.

"I think it's a historic day. I think it is something that needs to be recognized. I have a lot of friends that are really thrilled that they can be married now in any state in the country, and I wanted to celebrate that. Love is love. It's been a long battle, and I am really, really happy that today is the day, that we don't even have to talk about this anymore," Hosfeld-Joseph said.

Residents can expect to see the colorful flag in front of the cafe for a while.

"We have flags inside, too; we have them over the counter, along with the equality symbol, and that's been for a long time — long before Question 6 in Maryland," Hosfeld-Joseph said.


Members of PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County, a nonprofit equality advocacy group made up of families and allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community, said the Supreme Court ruling was a greater step toward equality and a human rights victory.

"People can still have their issues and be against this but it lets people know if that is who they are, it's up to them to be themselves, and these other reasons aren't anything to hold them back anymore," said Gibbons, who is a member of the PFLAG Westminster steering committee.

June Horner, a Sykesville resident whose son is gay, said she joined PFLAG in 1984.

"In 1985, I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that this day would come to pass in my lifetime. I was frustrated and angry to know that my first-class gay son would be considered a second-class citizen simply because of who he might love," Horner wrote in an email. "I am excited, thankfuland overjoyed beyond words at the Supreme Court's decision. It's a truly never to be forgotten historic day, but I will remember it for the hard work, blood, sweat and tears it took to bring this dream to fruition."

Joy Fisher, president of the Westminster chapter of PFLAG, said in a statement: "Marriage equality for all 50 states! How wonderful that sounds and how speechless it makes me to realize that today it is a reality. I am also humbled by the fact that I recognize all the effort and bravery that has gone before this day to make this a reality, our reality ... I hope that this Supreme Court ruling assists us in our goals to continue to promote love and provide knowledge, understanding and support for our LGBTQ+ community."

Naomi Keppler, 23, of Westminster, who is part of the PFLAG chapter's steering committee, said she was "super excited" about the ruling.


"It's great to be alive during a time when hearts are changing," Keppler said.

But Keppler and other members of PFLAG agreed there is more work to be done.

"As happy as I am that this happened, I hope that we can focus on other LGBT issues like increased suicide rates, homelessness, workplace rights and transgender issues," she said. "Now that this hurdle has been crossed, I hope the conversation shifts to some of these issues."

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The ruling comes on a day of legal significance — two previous gay rights rulings by the Supreme Court also came on June 26, both also written by Kennedy.

In 2003, the court issued its ruling in the case Lawrence v. Texas, striking down state laws that made gay sex a crime. On the same date in 2013, the court struck down part of the federal anti-gay-marriage law in the case U.S. v. Windsor.

Same-sex couples can already marry in 37 states and Washington, D.C., and according to UCLA's Williams Institute, there are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S. The court's ruling means the remaining 13 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to end bans on same-sex marriage.


Information from the Associated Press and Times Staff Writer Jon Kelvey contributed to this article.