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Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Americans Remain Split On Same-Sex Marriage


More reaction now on today's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The announcement set off a party atmosphere among the hundreds of people gathered outside of the court.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Love has won. Love has won. Love has won. Love has won.

MARTIN: That chant - love has won. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage in recent years. Last month, a Gallup poll found a record 60 percent of Americans now support it. That's more than doubled since the Gallup first asked the question 20 years ago. Still, as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, people are divided over today's ruling.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: A decade ago, Georgia amended its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But today, just 90 minutes after the ruling, it announced it would comply immediately. Christie and Kindra Baer were the first to wed at the Chatham County Courthouse in Savannah.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICIAL: I do pronounce that they are legally married under the laws of the United States and the state of Georgia.


LUDDEN: The couple had already wed in Washington, D.C. As a patchwork of contradictory laws took shape in recent years, today, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and other states also started issuing marriage licenses within hours. In Oklahoma City, Andrea Nguyen was getting pizza on her lunch break. She says she's long supported same-sex marriage.

ANDREA NGUYEN: It should've been legalized a long time ago as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why it took so long.

LUDDEN: Troy Stevenson of Freedom, Okla., says his overwhelming feeling is one of relief. Same-sex marriage became legal in that state last fall, but with this pending decision by the Supreme Court...

TROY STEVENSON: There was always that inkling of could something happen? Could it be taken away? That's gone. Their marriages are safe.

LUDDEN: In Nashville, construction manager Stanley Githaiga wasn't sure what to think. He just happened to be in the Davidson County clerk's office as same-sex couples started lining up to marry.

STANLEY GITHAIGA: I'm a Christian man. And God says that we should have man for woman and woman for man. So it's just different for me. I'm not used to this kind of lifestyle.

BRIAN BROWN: I think it'll be a decision that for many in this country, goes down in infamy. And we're going to do everything in our power from here on out to overturn it.

LUDDEN: Brian Brown heads the National Organization for Marriage, which has long opposed same-sex unions.

BROWN: The work for us just begins. And I think just like the Roe v. Wade decision, this decision will not settle anything. Instead, it will further polarize and divide this country for decades to come.

LUDDEN: Same-sex marriage supporters say they, too, have more work to do. Gabriel Blau of the Family Equality Council says discrimination against gays and lesbians is still legal in the workplace and elsewhere.

GABRIEL BLAU: You can get married on Sunday and then fired on Monday. Or you can be denied housing. Or you can be denied public accommodations walking into a restaurant, a store or other public institutions. We need to ensure that that is not the case.

LUDDEN: But Blau says today is one for celebration. Gays, lesbians and their supporters this evening are rallying in dozens of cities across the country. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.