BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) -- State Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) says she is ecstatic about the ruling the Supreme Court handed down on Wednesday. Her celebration plans include planning a lawsuit against the State of Alabama.
Todd wants to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states as legal unions.
That would give married gay couples living here the same federal benefits available in other states.
Todd, Alabama's first openly gay politician, made the announcement at a gathering for Equality Alabama.
The announcement comes on the same day that the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied gay married couples access to the same federal benefits heterosexual married couples can receive.
"We will be suing the state of Alabama for discrimination, denying our right to full and equal access as every other married couple – whether that be health insurance coverage, disability rights," Todd said on Wednesday. "In Alabama, if my partner is a state employee and dies, they will not give that partner that money, because they're not a legal union, so that money goes back to the state."
However, she doesn't think the process the lawsuit will take is going to be an easy road.
"I know it's going to be an uphill battle. I know a lot of things are going to be said about me, but that's okay," Todd added. "It's not just about me; it's the thousands of other people in this state who have waited so long for justice and equality.
"We have other challenges in the states that don't recognize our right to marry, and we will process with legal action accordingly. [In] the 32 states that don't recognize [gay marriage], you'll see in all 32 states people lining up to sue their states to come in line."
While she is ecstatic about Wednesday's ruling and is ready to follow through with the lawsuit, Todd says she does expect heavy opposition.
"We're meeting with the attorney. He's going over the Supreme Court decision and looking at the different options that we have before we go forward, so we'll be meeting with him in the next week or so and will determine what is the best course of action here," she said.
Before Wednesday's ruling, Todd says she and her partner planned to get married in Massachusetts in September. Now, she says they may elope.
"It will happen. You cannot have a federal law that's in conflict with a state law. I guarantee in the next 5 years we'll have full equality in every state," said Todd.
Jim Pinto, a sanctity of marriage activist, believes the ruling will only strengthen the resolve of opponents to same sex marriage in states like Alabama.
"The true definition of marriage will prevail: one man, one woman," said Pinto. "We can't redefine it, we can only affirm it. Thank God we are doing that in the State of Alabama and thank God the Supreme Court decision did not take that away. So, we must proclaim the sanctity of marriage."
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