Amarillo reacts to SCOTUS decision on gay marriage - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Amarillo reacts to SCOTUS decision on gay marriage

AMARILLO - The federal government will now grant same-sex married couples the same benefits as a traditional married couples, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

This ruling does not change the fact that Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, even to couples legally married in other states.

There were no pride celebrations in Amarillo today, as there were in much of the nation. But that doesn't mean the ruling doesn't effect hundreds of panhandle natives.

"I know the values are here, and we're very conservative. But at the same time, it's time to change," Amarillo resident Jay Kirkman said.

Kirkman's family has lived in Amarillo for over a century and as gay man, he says the Texas panhandle isn't exactly the easiest place to be, but it's home.

"You can have your conservative values, you can have your bible belt, you can have all that poop, but you know what, we're here," Kirkman said.

Kirkman is not married, but takes comfort in knowing he could receive the same marital benefits as his neighbors from the federal government.

But there will not be any changes on the Texas level any time soon, at least when it comes to taxes.

"Our tax system in Texas rests on sales taxes, property taxes, franchise tax for big corporations. I don't see anything different, married or not, about those taxes," Amarillo CPS Samuel Lovelady said.

That's not the case in Oklahoma and New Mexico though, where there is a state income tax that can change with marital status. And though the SCOTUS decision does not require states to recognize same-sex marriage, doesn't mean it won't change some issues on the state level.

"I'm not sure you can draw a bright line between what's state and what's federal when it comes to insurance, and retirement plans and for instance," Lovelady said. "It boggles my mind what those implications may be."

The future holds a lot of debate on how this landmark decision will affect state laws, including Texas. But Kirkman is just happy to see progress.

"It's time to change, this is 2013, we don't live in 1965," Kirkman said.

Right now it's still unclear if this decision will extend federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in one state, but move to a state like Texas that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

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