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Kitsap couples wait for Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday, extending benefits to same-sex couples.

PORT ORCHARD — The U.S. Supreme Court announced just after 10 a.m. the Defense Against Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The court did not extend legal same-sex marriage to all 50 states, but allows for gay couples married in states that legalize same-sex marriage to apply for federal benefits.

The Supreme Court also announced opponents of California's gay marriage law do not have standing to appeal the lower court's ruling, clearing the way for California to again legalize gay marriage.

According to the Atlantic Wire, the justices heard arguments on the two issues three months ago. The Supreme Court's Twitter account, @SCOTUSblog, confirmed that June 26 would be the day it would announce its decisions on same-sex marriage.

Many in Washington and Kitsap County held their breath to see how the federal decision will affect them or their loved ones. Washington voters approved same-sex marriage in November. Referendum 74 passed by 52 percent of the vote in Kitsap County.

One couple became uncertain about the "longevity" of Washington's law in light of the Supreme Court's impending decision. Phil Bonderud and David Smith of Olalla had planned for a wedding with many family and friends in August 2014, but decided to  go through the legal requirements "sooner rather than later."

"We are sure that opposition groups would like to find a way to overturn Washington state's marriage equality law and we're unsure whether the Supreme Court ruling might provide a way for them to do so," Bonderud said in an email. "We're beyond happy that the marriage equality law passed here in Washington but having been through this for so many years, we're concerned that it might not be permanent.

"Even if the law says it's permanent, when you've dealt with this inequality for your whole life there is a level of disbelief that it really is permanent."

Bonderud and Smith were married at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard on April 9, surrounded by many family and friends.

"It's about time," said Dan Smith, David's father. "We force kids not to [come out] because they're frightened" of how their parents may react.

David's brother Mark also said their marriage is a "great thing."

"I see no reason why two people who love each other can't be together," he said.

Before the ceremony, Smith said he was a little nervous. Bonderud was a bit cooler.

"I've been with him for nine years, I'm not stressed at all," Bonderud said.

Smith and Bonderud's friend, Jo Mayo, and David's mother Sharon Smith stood as their witnesses.

"I'm so excited, so thrilled for them," Mayo said before the ceremony. "I hope I don't start crying."

However, while there was a lot of laughter — especially after the judge accidentally said "wife" at one point, which Bonderud and Smith shrugged off — there was also a lot of tears.

Smith said the ceremony was more for the rest of the family, to tell everyone he and Bonderud are "official."

"I never thought it would happen," Smith said. Both Smith and Bonderud said they felt relieved afterward, but their faces expressed something more like elation.

 

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