For one Staten Island couple, the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense Of Marriage Act came at just the right time. The women are getting married later this week, just before one of them will be deployed overseas, and on Wednesday they were thrilled that the court's ruling could give them access to full military benefits. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Erin Honseler and Amanda Holbert have spent the week preparing for their wedding this Saturday. But the Staten Islanders' excitement was tempered by having to wait to see what the Supreme Court would do with the Defense Of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that refused to recognize same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, they got the news they were hoping for.
"I was kind of in disbelief and was quiet and my mom immediately called; she's like, 'Is this good? Is that what we wanted? Is that the right one?' I was like, 'Yes, it's the right one,'" Honseler said.
"It was just great to finally be recognized as an actual citizen and not, you know, second-class," Holbert said.
At the heart of their concerns: Holbert is in the Army, and beginning next month she is being sent overseas. She can't say where.
The U.S. military offers comprehensive benefits to heterosexual married couples, including health care, housing allowances and survivors' benefits, but not to same-sex couples.
"I felt like I was leaving her with nothing, because I couldn't give her health insurance, and x, y, z and all the benefits that come with being in the military," Holbert said. "But now hopefully in time they'll change the wording and the language around and so I will be able to give her all of that stuff while I'm away."
In fact, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will move quickly to extend those benefits to same-sex spouses of military personnel. It has all left both women even more excited about what's ahead.
"It doesn't affect our wedding. That has always been based on our love and affection for each other and partnership from here on out. But her leaving, it really affects that and now I feel a lot more confident and secure in her leaving," Honseler said.
In what they say will be the perfect way to end their wedding festivities this weekend, the couple is planning to attend the city's pride parade on Sunday and celebrate the DOMA ruling with the rest of the city's LGBT population.