Local gay rights advocates react to SCOTUS ruling

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Today's Supreme court rulings will have little impact in Arizona, which has a voter approved gay marriage ban. But tomorrow gay marriage backers will launch a petition drive to change that.

"Equal Marriage Arizona" announced its ballot initiative earlier this month, but waited for the Supreme Court to rule before starting to collect signatures. The measure states that religious organizations would not be required to officiate a gay marriage. Local gay rights activists say today's rulings represent a baby step in the right direction, but in states like Arizona where little if anything will change based on the rulings, there is a lot of progress left to be made.

In 2008, a wedding certificate for a couple who had been dating 18 years. Melissa Levine and her then partner got married in California. Two years later, Levine says they split but have yet to officially divorce.

"I was really waiting," Levine said. "I was really waiting for this to see how far it went and what went happen. Do I think it went far enough? No. I don't think it went far enough," she said of the ruling because it doesn't make her circumstance any easier. If Melissa and her ex were a heterosexual couple, getting a divorce would be much easier, so would a lot of things. With today's rulings, not much will change for lesbian and gay couples in Arizona, but it is a sure sign of a shifting landscape.

"I never thought California would happen in my lifetime," Levine said. "I never thought other states would allow gay marriage in my lifetime. I never thought DOMA would be overturned in my lifetime."

Mick Meader will tell you the same thing. As secretary of "Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays" or PFLAG, he provides support and guidance to local families with a gay child.

"We love each other just as much as anybody else does, we are just as committed," Meader said. "We've made households in the same way, we've got children in the same way."

Meader thinks the importance of families ultimately will pave the way for same sex couples to have the same rights as heterosexual ones.

Levine does too. She and her ex share two children. The local family practice doctor says she believes in the institution of marriage and would like to be married again, but "I would like to be married and actually have it count as being married," Levine explained. "I would like to file joint tax returns if I want to."

To learn more about PFLAG Tucson, visit the following link: http://www.pflagtucson.org/

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.