On Beacon Hill, elected officials, activists and same-sex couples applauded the United States Supreme Court rulings on same sex marriage

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley held a press conference to mark Wednesday’s historic decision. Her voice swelled with emotion describing the impact of the ruling.

"Today is a celebration. We have waited a long time for today’s decision and it is a victory for fairness and equality.  It’s a victory for families across Massachusetts and this country," she said."When you think of this decision, think beyond the legal actions...Think of the people who will no longer denied their love." 

Massachusetts was the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage in 2003. Coakley was the first Attorney General to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act, though the Massachusetts case was not the one ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Darrel Hopkins and his husband Tom, of Westminster, were defendants in Coakley's suit. They have been together for 30 years. Darrel is a Vietnam veteran, and when a state veterans cemetery gave the couple permission to be buried together, the federal government threatened to withdraw $17 million dollars in funding to Massachusetts.

The couple said they were overjoyed when they learned of the Supreme Court decision.

“Next to the day we got married, this is the happiest day of my life," Tom said. "I think we talked about at our wedding the day we got married was an affirmation of our commitment to each other.  And this is an affirmation from our federal government.”

Carol Rose, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said she’s thrilled about the Supreme Court. 

"There were tears and cheers throughout the ACLU in all 50 states today,” she said. “It’s great to win."

Rose said the ruling sustains the momentum of the gay rights movement over the past decade:

"As of Last October only 11 percent of the American people lived in a free marriage state. As of toady, 30 percent of Americans live in a free marriage state,” she said, referring to the 13 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage has been legalized.

Advocates believe the Supreme Court decisions set the stage to legalize same sex marriage across America, but gay marriage opponent Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute said he doesn’t think that will happen.

"This is a speed bump in the process of maintaining marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” he said. “Ultimately, it might take a generation or two . We will see the flaws of same sex marriage. We will restore marriage properly hopefully in Massachusetts and across the nation.”