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Western New York reacts to Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage nationally drew praise locally from Kitty Lambert-Rudd and her wife, Cheryle, the first same-sex couple to marry in New York under the Marriage Equality Act in 2011.

Lambert-Rudd said she felt “wonderful.”

“We felt a sense of security the first time (same-sex) marriage passed,” she said. “With this, if you get an amazing job offer in, say, Omaha, Neb., you can move there with your partner and continue to do the work that you do and continue having the blessings of marriage that you have here.”

The Stonewall Democrats of Western New York held a rally on Allen Street on Friday evening to celebrate.

“The history made today cannot be stressed enough,” said Bryan Ball, president of the group.

Ball called the Supreme Court decision “the most historic victory we have won nationally.”

But others criticized the ruling.

“I am bitterly disappointed that the majority of justices of the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to overturn the definition of marriage, which has remained unchanged for millennia,” said Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard M. Malone in a statement.

“Marriage is the lifelong exclusive union of one man and one woman, a font of unitive life and love as well as the foundation of a stable family and society.” Malone said.

“Marriage is rooted in creation: God created marriage in the very same breath as he created the human person, and for the Catholic Church, that will not change,” the bishop said. “It is my prayer that despite today’s developments, we will embrace anew the truth, beauty and goodness of marriage as it has always been and always will be, between a man and a woman.”

The Conservative Party of New York State also condemned the ruling.

“The Supreme Court has summarily dismissed the fact that marriage is an institution with a unique meaning and purpose – to bring the two halves of humanity together to give children the best opportunity to experience the love of both their mother and father,” a release from the party said.

“Every civilization since the dawn of time has recognized that this is a universal, foundational truth, yet five justices have decided to redefine marriage to support an ideology that has little tolerance of those who support traditional marriage,” it added.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he was “thrilled” to see the Supreme Court’s decision.

“New York has been a leader in the fight for marriage equality, and today’s Supreme Court decision affirms what we have fought so hard for – that marriage is a fundamental right that should be afforded to everyone, regardless of whom they love,” he said. “Today, progress marches on.”

In recognition of the decision and New York City Pride Week, the governor asked that the lights on One World Trade Center’s spire display rainbow colors Sunday.

Rep. Brian Higgins also expressed his appreciation for the ruling.

“The United States was founded on the principles of freedom, equality, and the promise of a better life,” he said in a news release. “Today the Supreme Court stood by those ideals with this decision to uphold and extend the legal rights of Americans to marry the one they love.”

The Rev. R. William Franklin, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, welcomed the ruling.

“The tragedy in Charleston impelled us to remove symbols of racism and to recommit to coming together to address the systems of intolerance and racism that have kept us separated,” he said in a news release. “Today’s ruling lifts a different barrier, one that has stood in the way of what Justice Kennedy rightly called ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ for same-gendered couples.”

The ruling could set up a clash between same-sex marriage and religious freedom, said Michael Boucai, an associate professor of law at the University at Buffalo.

“The bounds of the right to religious freedom have been expanding dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to the Supreme Court, and that is the irony here,” said Boucai, who specializes in law and sexuality. “If the court’s composition stays the same, it’s not clear how it would rule in religious liberty cases dealing with same-sex marriage. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ruled 5-4 the other way based on Justice Kennedy’s votes in past cases.”