DOMA ruling gives local couple hope for the future

Before the repeal of DOMA, same-sex couples were prohibited from Social Security, pension, bankruptcy and other federal benefits.

Buying a first home is a rite of passage for many couples and something Chris Taylor and his partner Austin Young achieved.

"Living the American dream is important," Taylor said. "You grow up thinking you're going to get married and buy a home, have kids and a pet, 2.5 is the dream. Just because I'm doing it with somebody of the same sex doesn't make it any less of the American dream."

Taylor and Young are engaged and have been together for almost six years.

"It's a surreal feeling," Young said. "It's really exciting because I told Chris I didn't want to get married until it was recognized on a Federal level. So this is a huge step for us."

And it's a huge win for the LGBT community. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. The federal law defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It also failed to recognize the marriage of gay and lesbian couples even if the unions took place in states that deemed same-sex marriage legal.

"There have been a lot of people who don't quite understand because they don't live our life," Young said. "They don't live with the fears and the worries that we have. They live with their fears and worries, which, if you're not part of the LGBT community or know someone who is, you really don't know the detriment that DOMA put on gay couples."

"There are a lot of things people grow up assuming," Taylor said. "They think they're going to get married, plan their wedding and they're going to have kids and they know it'll be okay because they have the ability to do that. For us, we're worried sometimes about working on some things on the house because if something happens we don't have those same types of protections. So while some are worried about milk and eggs, we're worried about medical benefits and that one of us is going to be taken care of if something happens."

DOMA also prohibited Social Security, pension, bankruptcy and other federal benefits to married gay and lesbian couples.

"We've worked for everything that we have," Young said. "Everything we have, we've worked cohesively for and so if he dies I don't get his Social Security benefits and that leaves me without the income that was there that say a regular married couple would get. Just because we're not married, all they see me, in the eyes of the government, is a roommate."

The repeal of DOMA changes that.

"There's a lot of security knowing that the Federal government recognizes marriage and that's a huge step in the right direction, and I don't know if we could be any happier right now," Taylor said.

Same-sex marriages are legal in Iowa. Young and Taylor hope more states follow suit.

"I'd hate to say that we would move," Young said. "For the safety of our future, I would say that we would move to a state where it was legal just because that's our future. We would stay here and build as much as we can and then if it's Iowa where it's going to be, then we'll go to Iowa and build the rest of our lives there if it never becomes legal."

Taylor and Young are waiting to get married until Illinois also legalizes same-sex marriage.

"I think most of us know that Illinois seems to follow the will of the country so we do believe the time will come," Taylor said. "So between now and that time it gives us plenty of opportunity to pick out things for the wedding."

"All we want is to get married and to be able to go about our lives and just go about our lives and to be protected," Young said. "It's not like I want to shove gay down your throat, that's not what we're going for. We want to live our lives and live the American dream."