DOMA ruling a huge step in right direction, same-sex couples say - - Columbia, South Carolina |

DOMA ruling a huge step in right direction, same-sex couples say

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The ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 has sparked a reaction across the country and right here in our own backyard.

But the question is how far reaching this ruling will be since South Carolina does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.

We spoke to a long-time couple who say even though the rulings may not be a sweeping mandate for change, it's still huge step in the right direction.

Clayton King and Jeffery Schwalk already had plans in place to go to New York to get married this summer, but this will now make that special day even more meaningful.

King met Schwalk 30 years ago. They never thought they would see the day when they could be legally married.

While they cannot be married in this state, King says the Supreme Court rulings mark progress.

"When they actually announced it and it actually sunk in, what was just said I was dumb founded and then I was overwhelmed, and I'm still kinda flying high on the whole thing," said King. "I'm pretty psyched."

On their 30th anniversary, the couple will head to New York to recite their vows in front a few friends and family. South Carolina is home and they plan to fight for the right to say "I do" here.

"I think that if you run away to some place where it's easier your shirking your responsibilities that you have," said Schwalk. "Gay rights organizations would probably like to see us actually step up to the plate and work toward having marriage equality across the country rather than finding way to sort of work around the new situation."

The couple attends Reformation Lutheran Church. It was under the leadership of Pastor Bill Eiwen until last year when he retired. He decided long ago to support marriage equality for everyone.

"I was elated for the people because during my work over the past five years, I've had the opportunity to meet just plain people, just regular people, they just happen to fall in love with someone of the same gender," said Eiwen.

He's done a lot more than offer support. Eiwen has performed commitment ceremonies and affirmation for marriage ceremonies for gay couples who have gotten married in other states. Here in Columbia, he says the ruling adds a layer of hope for people in the gay community who have held onto the dream that their marriage would also be recognized in the eyes of the law.

"And while it may not be guaranteed everywhere, because it's guaranteed some places there is the hope for them for the future," said Eiwen.

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