Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Friday June 26th, 2015, 10:01pm

Chicago LGBT Community Celebrates SCOTUS Marriage Equality Decision (VIDEO)

A rainy Friday evening in Chicago didn't stop dozens of marriage equality supporters from rallying in the city's Boystown neighborhood to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., to cheer the high court's ruling handed down earlier that day. LGBT activists held rainbow flags and the Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles performed the songs "Chapel of Love" and "We Are Family."

Chicago LGBT activist Robert Castillo, whose partner of more than two decades died of cancer three years ago, said Friday represented a "bittersweet day" for him. 

"Today, when I first heard the news, my first emotion was to immediately break down and cry because John is not here to witness this victory that me and him fought so hard for," he told the crowd. "Today is an amazing victory, but I'm also sad for the folks who are not here."

In a 5-4 decision on the Obergefell v. Hodges case, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the federal Constitution. Specifically, the court held that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions. 

LGBT advocate Melissa Young called the high court's ruling "absolutely historic." 

"I'm happy to be on the right side of history, and that this happened in my lifetime," she told Progress Illinois. "I had to come out today and be a part of this day because of all of the times I've marched, and all of the envelopes I've stuffed, and all of the petitions I've had people sign, and all the people I've lost ... I will never forget the shoulders upon which we stand and those who didn't get to see it, but are seeing it from beyond. I'm super grateful today."

While the LGBT community scored a huge win Friday, some have expressed displeasure over the outcome of the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

Among the critics of the ruling was likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He described the ruling as a "grave mistake" and called for a U.S. constitutional amendment to reverse the decision.

"As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage," Walker said in a statement. "I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs."

Asked about Walker's comments and other negative reactions to the Supreme Court ruling, Young noted that those who are against nationwide marriage equality "are fewer and far between."

"Even the polls on CNN said today that 75 percent of our nation was in support of equality of marriage for all, so the 25 percent of the people, who just happen to be the squeakiest wheels and need the most grease, they're going to keep being loud until they die out," she said. "Because no one's listening [to them] anymore." 

Chicago activists celebrated the ruling, but also stressed that much work remains in achieving full equality for and ending discrimination against LGBT people. 

"We need to win safe schools for our youth," said Andy Thayer with the Gay Liberation Network, which co-sponsored Friday's event with Marriage Equality USA. "We need to win adequate housing for our LGBT youth, who are forced out of their homes by bigoted parents. We need youth jobs programs, so that homeless youth can actually get housing for themselves. We need to stop the epidemic of violence against out trans sisters and brothers.

"We can have all the formal legal equality we can (win), but as the events in Charleston showed, hate violence can still run rampant," Thayer added. "We need to celebrate, but let's not rest on our laurels. We need to take this victory, we need to make sure that all these states enforce this victory for us, and we need to fight for full legal and social equality for all LGBT people, all oppressed peoples, here in the United States."

Here's more from Thayer, plus comments from Allie Buchwach with Marriage Equality USA:

Friday's ruling, Thayer added, provides the LGBT community with an opportunity to "take a big victory and push it even farther."

"Be happy in today's victory, be joyous in today's victory, but say we're not going to let this moment in history pass without pushing for full social and legal equality for our community," he said. 


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