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Petal couple says Supreme Court rulings are victories

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PETAL, MS (WDAM) -

With their eyes on the nation's high court Wednesday morning, Sara and Lynn Bell were brought to tears when rulings brought two victories for gay marriage.

"I felt like it was a validation that our relationships were real," said Lynn.

Living in Petal, the two were legally married back in May of 2011 after exchanging vows in Connecticut. However, their marriage is not recognized in Mississippi and because of the Defense of Marriage Act, federal benefits were out of the question as well. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court a key provision of that Act, the federal definition of marriage, is ruled unconstitutional. Because of it, some federal benefits could soon be a part of their marriage. Others may not be available. It all depends on state laws which are now the question.

"Personally I'm hoping that those protections will be available to us too since we are married," said Sara.

The other ruling from the court, which overturned a ban on same-sex marriage in California isn't being quite as celebrated. The Bells were hoping for nation wide change.

"There's many issues that have not been resolved by this, especially in states that already have bans on gay marriage," said Sara.

Their victories however, only increase the fight for groups opposed to gay marriage. Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins released a statement after the rulings saying he was "disappointed" and "disturbed." He said in part "We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father."

Perkins went on to say he was encouraged because the high court did not impose a nationwide definition of marriage which many gay rights advocates wanted.

While they feel it'll be a long time before Mississippi allows gay couples to marry, the Bells say small victories sweeping the country are adding up to become a larger picture.

"I think that people are coming around to understand that even though they may not agree or even though they may not think it's right, that we have a right to live our lives in America as they do," said Sara.

"There's more work to be done, especially in the South to protect LGBT individuals," said Lynn.

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