HARRISONBURG -- Wednesday was a big day for many in the nation and in the Valley. At a rally outside the U.S. federal court house, several people gathered to celebrate what they saw as a victory for same-sex couples. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing legally married gay couples the rights to certain benefits.
"It's a huge celebration and it's a celebration that finally we have blazoned the trail for marriage equality," said Rev. Mike Donovan, an organizer of Rally for Marriage Equality.
On Wednesday, speakers like Jacqueline Walker drew parallels between landmark civil rights decisions and the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.
"The other reason for my happiness is that I was five-years old when the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision was handed down," said Walker.
Rev. Donovan is a full-time law student and pastor with the River Church. He organized Wednesday's event.
"I look forward to taking the challenge to Virginia's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage," said Rev. Donovan.
Rev. Donovan is in a same-sex relationship. He said the Supreme Court's decisions renewed his faith in the justice system.
"Protecting a class of people who were discriminated under the law. That's what DOMA did and DOMA needed to be struck down and it's a huge victory for freedom and democracy that it was struck down today," said Rev. Donovan.
Vicky Linn, a participant in the rally, said she doesn't believe in the word gay marriage. Instead she prefers the words “marriage equality.” She doesn't think the fight for equality is finished in the state of Virginia.
"A lot of people don't realize that your employer can fire you for being LGBT," said Linn.
For many the next step is for the state of Virginia to legalize gay marriage. Same-sex marriages are legal in the neighboring state of Maryland. Rev. Donovan hopes to wed same-sex couples in Maryland in the near future and bring them here to Virginia to celebrate the unions in a convention hall to be announced.