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"Love Wins" Celebration in Bowling Green

Dora James, the Western Kentucky Regional Organizer of the Fairness Campaign, led the 50 or so people at the Federal courthouse in downtown Bowling Green Friday afternoon in a chant of "What do we want?" "Fairness" "When do we want it?" "Now". And for supporters of same-sex marriage, they got that fairness Friday morning when a split U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have a right to be married anywhere in the country.

The decision reverberated all across the country immediately and all day long up to and including the courthouse where James addressed the rain-soaked crowd saying, "So on this day love won for all Americans including all Kentuckians. This time yesterday there were only 37 states in the country with marriage equality and today there's all 50 of them. So how fantastic is that?"

Despite same-sex marriage being debated for years by lawmakers from Washington to Frankfort, it was obvious from the people at Bowling Green's rally the issue was a lot more personal than political.

Steve Downey spoke of the love he and his wife have for their son, "From the time our son Andy came out, we wanted him to have a happy, committed life with someone permanently just like we had and have. I want to say thanks to all the brave people who stayed at home, the Kentuckians who stayed home including our son. If you didn't stay home, if everybody moved to where it was legal to be married we wouldn't have these cases before the Supreme Court, would we?"

Two of those "brave people" who stayed home were Ryan Dillon and Daniel Shouse. The two young men worked with Dora James when they were all ay Ohio County High School in 2007 in setting up a club, a gay-straight alliance, "And for a little bit there, maybe for two weeks, it went smoothly in our school," Ryan said, "then all of a sudden, death threats started coming to our students, gun threats, knife threats, people being ran off the road, all those things started happening at school. And then we had students starting to attempt suicide at school because they were so scared, and the parents in our small, conservative county started telling them that they were worthless."

He went on, "And they felt like they didn't have any hope because they couldn't get married, they couldn't do any of that and they didn't feel protected in our county, in our school, in our country. Dora and I did all we could to get them a safe place, and by the time we left high school, the club was the second-largest in the school with over 80 members in our tine little high school and it is still running at Ohio County High School right now."

But Ryan and Daniel did have hope. Ryan said they got married, in a sense, in 2008 when they slipped rings on each other's fingers and then made it legal with a 2014 trip to Washington, D.C.

"Daniel said 'Ryan, guess what?', and I said 'What?' and Daniel said, 'We're married everywhere in this country' and the world changed for us, just like it changed for so many same-sex couple across this country."

Daniel added, "This morning, things got a lot less complicated and not only are we better off, but I got to tell a friend from college that when he and his partner were ready, they just had to go down the street, and that feels really, really good."

Really good for Ryan, Daniel and millions of other same-sex couples and their families throughout the country.

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