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LGBT alumni react to Supreme Court decision

| Friday, July 3, 2015

Kelly Inman, Saint Mary’s class of ‘92, was at work last Friday morning when a coworker told her the news.

The United States Supreme Court had just ruled that, under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, states had to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage was, in effect, legal in all 50 states.

Inman, who lives in Indianapolis with her partner of 19 years, was so happy she said she had trouble concentrating for the rest of the day.

“I’m 45 years old, so I’ve lived through times when I never thought I would see anything like this,” she said. “It’s been an amazing few days.”

Inman met her partner, Desiree Inman, in 1996 in South Bend, and the two moved to Indianapolis in 2004. The two bought a house together, have joint bank accounts and share a last name — Kelly Inman legally changed hers from Smith.

“We did everything we could to live together as a married couple,” she said.

They couldn’t get married legally until October 2014, after a district court overturned a law restricting marriage to male-female couples. Even then, the couple decided to wait — there had been several appeals in the district court decision, and they weren’t certain their marriage would be recognized.

On Friday, their legal position strengthened, since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal and that those marriages had to be recognized in every state.

That recognition was especially important for Elena Misailedes and her girlfriend Christine Allen, both 2014 Notre Dame graduates. As California residents, they could already legally marry, but Milsailedes said both are thinking of graduate school, which might have taken them to a place where they could not.

“It’s just nice to know that my future just got blown wide open,” she said. “I’m not looking at a map thinking, ‘Oh, I live here. So we’d have to live here to get married.’”

As Inman and Misailedes celebrated in their respective states Friday, several students and alumni, including 2015 graduate Kathleen Schiavenza, did the same outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Schiavenza, a summer intern for California Rep. Doris Matsui, said the gathering was large and diverse — she saw students, Human Rights Campaign workers, people who had waited years for a decision and people who happened by, all singing, chanting and waving flags.

“It was such a loving and caring celebration,” she said. “Yes, there were the people and streets were blocked off and police were there but it was such an exciting and celebratory moment for people.”

Senior Connor Hayes, co-vice president of PrismND and a summer intern at a progressive Washington think tank, was also in front of the Supreme Court building on Friday, watching everybody there, from students to a Baptist minister to a Catholic group and a Latino group, celebrate the decision.

He said what surprised him was how quickly many in the crowed started talking about next steps, like ending job discrimination for LGBT people and ensuring protections for transgender women and LGBT people of color.

“Marriage is great, but it’s this middle-class, often very white institution, so we have to transform the LGBT movement to work on other issues,” he said.

As for marriage, Kelly Inman said she and Desiree are still not sure when they’ll get married — they want to “wait until the dust has settled,” she said.

One possibility is next year, she said. It will be their 20th year together.

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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