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LGBT community reacts to mention of reconsidering same-sex marriage ruling

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court reconsider same-sex marriage. In Washington, it has been legal for nearly a decade.

SEATTLE — In his concurring opinion to overturn the nation's constitutional protections for abortion, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for a reconsideration of rulings regarding contraception, same-sex activity and same-sex marriage. 

The state of Washington has been holding legal same-sex marriage ceremonies since 2012. State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu officiated the first at the King County Courthouse - a moment she remembers fondly. 

"We were really excited because we felt that no one should wait one more minute which is why we decided to do it at midnight and yet there's a level of anxiety," Justice Yu said. "Part of me in the back of my mind thought, is this really real? Is something bad going to happen? Are we really going to be able to do this? And then I also wanted to make it perfect for these couples." 

The first marriage she performed happened to be with a couple for whom she'd also presided over an adoption. Since then, she has performed hundreds each year. 

"It means everything and it meant everything," Yu said. "It really was a public recognition of relationships and their families. But people get married not only because they love each other but because there are real concrete benefits that marriage offers to people."

Jason Houston is engaged. He said he deeply values knowing he and his fiancé have the legal right to a nationally-recognized same-sex marriage.

"I'm from Mississippi and there was real concern for us that, if we aren't in Washington state, are we going to have to go to state by state, to anywhere we want to live, are we going to have to justify ourselves all over again and try to explain why our marriage is valid?" Houston said. "That's one of the things Obergefell did for us, was validate those marriages nationwide, and of course that includes federal benefits for things."

He said he was concerned by references to reconsidering not just the Obergefell ruling, which affected gay marriage, but also the Lawrence ruling, which prevented the criminalization of same-sex activity. 

"Different Supreme Courts interpret different things in different ways and we have a much more conservative bench than in years past so I think it's a real risk that a lot of these issues may be revisited and we could face not even invalidations of marriages but also criminal cases," Houston said. 

Yu said she understands the concerns people have about whether the same-sex ruling could be challenged, though she said for now, it's important to know people still have their rights.

"It's the law in the state of Washington that anybody can be married and no marriage will be undone or unrecognized and I don't foresee a future where same-sex couples cannot marry one another," Yu said. 

Houston hopes, in this moment, communities will have solidarity with each other. 

"I think it's important for us to stand for marginalized communities and I say this as a gay man, but we're not the only ones and we have to be here standing up for this and standing up for what's right and making sure this Supreme Court is not taking rights away from us, especially after we worked so long to get them in the first place," Houston said. "It's criminally unfair to me that chance of just the makeup of the court."

As Seattle celebrates Pride, Yu said it's also important to celebrate the progress already made.

"Given that it's Pride weekend I would invite everyone to celebrate that love is love, love is genuine and sincere, and now is the time to celebrate the rights we have," Yu said. "And while people may have concerns about the future or where we're headed, the moment is right now. Celebrate a sunny day in Seattle, celebrate Pride, celebrate the fact that in Washington state, we can marry the person that we love."

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