Minutes after Friday’s historic Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, Business Insider headed to The Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City that’s known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement.
Stonewall was the site of a riot on June 28, 1969 after police officers raided the bar. Patrons responded by destroying police cars and barricading officers into the bar.
The following year, gay rights groups held an anniversary celebration, which eventually morphed into the worldwide Gay Pride festivities including the parade in New York that’s scheduled for this weekend.
On Friday, the Stonewall was the epicentre for a celebration of the Supreme Court decision.
Barna (left) said he isn't married. When we asked what the Court's decision meant for him, McMillan piped in.
'It means that, now, you are the only obstacle to your own happiness,' McMillan said to Barna.
'Can I say that I said that?' Barna asked. 'It's a great quote.'
Barna and McMillan said they have been friends for a decade.
'It's exciting as a gay man and as an attorney … to be celebrating this outside the Stonewall where it all started,' Barna said, adding, 'This is a right that every American should have and now does.'
Colleen McCollum and her wife Shellie both took the day off from work and travelled to the Stonewall from Clifton, New Jersey.
'We're glad to be here,' McCollum said. 'This just means that the marriage that we have and the wedding that we had is recognised everywhere we don't have to worry about anyone saying 'no' anymore.'
Ali Khan, who came to the Stonewall with his friend Wil Lim, said the bar 'represents the inception of the struggle for equality.'
'Today is a major milestone, but the struggle is not over by any means,' Khan added.
Cathy Marino-Thomas, former co-president of the group Marriage Equality USA, was cheering when she arrived at the Stonewall. 'Fabulous work everybody! Fabulous!' she shouted, adding, 'Now we move on to gender!'
'We are legal in all 50 states!' Marino-Thomas said. 'Why isn't the bar open? That's what I want to know.'
Marino-Thomas said she has personally been working for marriage equality for '20 years.'
'I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I've got no job,' Marino-Thomas said. 'We've been sharing a bottle of champagne and waiting for the ruling. … It's just an amazing day.'
We asked Marino-Thomas about the future of her group.
'Who cares?' she said with a laugh, before adding. 'I'm kidding. You know what? We're going to move on and the activists that have been working with Marriage Equality are going to morph into working for gender and working for our LGBT youth because now the mission is full federal equality in all states and all things.'
Just before 11 a.m. , they opened the doors to the Stonewall and people began to stream inside. Joyce and Jeff were the first ones to come through the door 'We can be the first customers,' Jeff said. 'That's kind of like historic.'
We asked what they wanted to drink as cheering crowds streamed in behind them and Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl' played in the background.
'I'm going to have a beer,' Joyce said.
'I'm going to have what she has,' said Jeff.
Jeff claimed he came 'all the way from Los Angeles' because he expected the ruling might occur and he wanted to celebrate it at Gay Pride weekend in New York.
'I have the cold chills. I mean, this means equality, to be accepted at the national level,' said Joyce. 'It's exciting I want to cry. You're lucky I don't kiss you right now.'
Joyce said she has been with her female partner for 16 years.
'We had a civil union in Vermont 14 years ago,' Joyce explained. 'I'm just happy for the states that haven't been able to be recognised.'
Scott Harris was the man who opened the doors to the Stonewall on Friday. 'It's a good feeling,' he said. 'We've come a long way in this bar since 1969.'
According to Harris, the Stonewall opened about three hours early because of the Court decision. Harris said he comes to work at Stonewall as a manager every year on Pride weekend when the bar needs extra staff.
Harris, who said this is his 'fifth of sixth year' working at Stonewall during Pride, said the bar was expecting 'one of their biggest weekends' due to the ruling.
'We got plenty of extra just in case,' said Harris.
Russell Smith and Michael Blackmon Ham both work at Equinox gyms, but they never met before running into each other at Stonewall.
Smith is a personal trainer while Blackmon Ham is a pilates instructor.
'I am debating whether I am going to cancel the rest of my clients for the day,' Smith said.
We asked Smith whether he thought there would be a lot of missed appointments at Equinox.
'I think a good majority of them are probably going to be canceled,' Smith said.
'I was smart. I got all my appointments early in the morning,' said Blackmon Ham, adding, 'I never thought I would see this.'
Both men described Equinox as a very gay-friendly business.
'We work for a company, Equinox, that not only tolerates our lifestyle, but celebrates it,' Smith said.
Smith also shared a prediction for the upcoming Pride festivities.
'There's going to be a big run on extra large wedding dresses this weekend for the guys in the parade,' he said.
'No, they can't wear white,' Blackmon Ham said.
Now that she was in the bar, Cathy Marino-Thomas hoisted a beer. 'Here's a toast to Antonin Scalia: F--k you!'
'He's so hateful and he's so bigoted and, honestly, for a Supreme Court justice, he's not that familiar with the Constitution,' Marino-Thomas said of Scalia, who wrote a dissent on the historic ruling.
Marino-Thomas also offered a toast to one of the justices who ruled in favour of gay marriage.
'I want to thank Ruth Bader Ginsburg for being on our side always,' she said, adding, 'I know she twisted a bunch of arms.'
Whitney Platt, who lives in New York, is a gay man who came to the Stonewall with his mother, Charlotte, and sister, Kelly, who were visiting from the family's home in Kansas.
Charlotte said she was happy about the Court ruling, but she expressed 'doubt' it would change things for gay people in her home state.
'Hopefully it might,' Charlotte said. 'They have to change. They're living in the dark ages in Kansas.'
'This is a big day,' she told him. 'I'm going to show you a picture of this when you're older and remind you that you were here.'
'I was here the day of the rebellion,' said Tree. 'I was 30 years old in 1969, I'm 76 now.'
Tree, who said he does not have a last name, described the riot as a 'lot of fun.'
'We were having the time of our life,' Tree said. 'The cops were deathly afraid to leave the building. … They were barricaded in here. … We threw garbage cans through the windows on fire. That's when the riot squad had to come.'
Tree, who claimed he has been working at the Stonewall for 17 years, said he did not expect a movement would begin after the riots.
'We figured after the raid that was it,' Tree explained. 'The following year when we saw everybody was going to march in the parade, we made fun of the. Who's going to march? … We thought they were crazy.'
Tree is clearly amazed by the progress since then.
'After that pride parade, well it was a march, really we thought that was it,' he said. 'Who knew?'
Though he was pleased by the Supreme Court ruling, Tree said he has no plans to get married.
'I'm single,' he said. 'I like younger men. I'm afraid they will marry me for the money I don't have.'
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