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Celebrating Marriage Equality at Stonewall Inn

The scene outside the landmark tavern, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide

Jas Chana
June 26, 2015
Jas Chana
Shonna Levin outside the Stonewall Inn just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Jas Chana
Jas Chana
Shonna Levin outside the Stonewall Inn just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Jas Chana

In New York City this morning—just hours after the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide—naturally, eyes turned towards one of the world’s most famous gay bars, the Stonewall Inn. The iconic tavern, widely considered to be the site from which the gay rights movement launched in the 1960s, was granted official landmark status by the City on Thursday. So, in advance of NYC’s Pride parade this weekend, hundreds flocked to the West Village to mingle and revel in the good vibes.

Upon my arrival Stonewall, at first, it seemed that there were far more reporters at the scene than civilians. As news vans unpacked their cameras, reporters scribbled furiously in their notebooks as a presenter put on her best television voice, in anticipation of a broadcast. However, the media’s preparations were interrupted by a glamorous Marilyn Monroe-esque drag queen who paraded down the street proclaiming her congratulations before being descended upon by cameramen.

“I feel just like Paris Hilton,” she giggled, somewhat startled.

“[The Supreme Court’s decision] is about people—not just about Gay people,” said Bridgette Callaghan, a reveler who was standing nearby. Callaghan, like many others outside Stonewall, seemed content simply to soak in the news alone, and in proximity to New York City’s newly crowned landmark. “It was important for me to be here today,” Callaghan said.

I asked many of the people I spoke with why they believed so much value is placed on the right to get married when, for many, marriage is something of an antiquated institution.

Another reveler, Christine Champagne, was celebrating because her partner lives in Montreal and is currently awaiting approval on her green card. “When I was younger I never wanted to get married,” she said. “The Gay Parade is going to be so meaningful for me this year.”

But for others, the value of marriage goes beyond the legal benefits it now grants. Sam Greenberg, a young Jewish man who comes from the “liberal fringes of the observant world,” said that marriage has an intrinsic value that transcends tradition. “Marriage is a statement of human nature,” he said, before expressing how happy today’s decision had made him. He also believes that it’s the “Torah’s view and God’s view that [gay marriage] is a good thing.”

Greenberg’s friend, Shonna Levin, also caught my eye because she was sporting a T-shirt that read, “I ♥ Jewish Girls.” She told me stories about the time she has spent with LGBT Orthodox support groups, like JQY, which “affirmed her existence.” She explained, that in a world in which genders are so often segregated, how cathartic it is to hear from fellow Jews who understand exactly what it feels like to attend shul and be grouped with other women they find attractive.

Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.