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Same-Sex Marriage Rights Advance in the US

Matthew Tosiello of Virginia responded to the Supreme Court's decision by proposing to his partner.

Matthew Tosiello of Virginia responded to the Supreme Court's decision by proposing to his partner.

This week the Supreme Court acted in one of America’s most debated issues by doing almost nothing. The justices decided not to examine lower court rulings that permit same-sex marriage in the states of Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.

Same-sex marriages are legal in a majority of U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Internationally, 19 countries legally recognize same-sex marriage.

Reaction in Virginia

In the U.S. state of Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring commented shortly after the Supreme Court announced its decision Monday. Mr. Herring tweeted that marriage equality is in effect in the state. The announcement led those who had been waiting for the chance to take action. Some went immediately to their courthouse to request marriage licenses.

Matthew Tosiello

Matthew Tosiello

Matthew Tosiello is a 38-year-old teacher at an elementary school in Arlington, Virginia. He proposed marriage to his same-sex partner on Monday night. His partner accepted. Later, Mr. Tosiello posted a photo of the proposal, written on paper, to his friends on Facebook.

He has had over 200 likes and nothing but happy reactions from his friends and family.

"Personally I'm just happy to be able to have the right to do it, and I look forward to doing so. [Two years ago] I had emergency surgery for an appendix that was about to burst. We spent a lot of money to do medical powers of attorney and things like that. We're not going to have to have that conversation [in the future]. It's definitely going to have a big impact on our lives, but it's those, you know, very important yet mundane details. Happy as I am, I -- in some ways I really wish the Supreme Court would have made a very definitive statement by settling this issue once and for all."

Possible future Supreme Court ruling

A White House spokesman on Monday said most Americans believe same sex couples deserve fair treatment under the law. The spokesman made the comment after the Supreme Court ruled, but he did not note the decision. The spokesman said U.S. President Barack Obama believes it should be legal for same sex couples to marry.

Indeed, many legal experts expect the Supreme Court to rule one day on whether gay people should have the right to marry in all U.S. states. However, officials in some states say the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to decide how states define marriage. The officials say no legal tradition supports a right to gay marriage.

I’m Christopher Cruise.

Smita P. Nordwall, Michael Bowman and Jill Robbins reported this article. Kelly Jean Kelly wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in this Story

appeal - n. a process in which a decision is studied and accepted or rejected by a higher court or by someone in authority (an appeals court is the court where this process takes place)

definitive - adj. not able to be argued about or changed: final and settled

legal - adj. of or relating to the law; based on the law

ruling - n. an official decision made by a judge

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