SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - Gay men and women all across southwest Florida have been celebrating over the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act.
Brandon Intihar and Matthew Neff own a business together and plan to one day get married. Now they feel a same sex marriage is more than just a piece of paper.
"That is going to open up a lot of doors to a lot of savings and a lot of benefits throughout the government," said Intihar.
Possibly more than a thousand federal benefits like IRS deductions, tax free employer healthcare for spouses and social security benefits if one partner passes away.
"It just makes it even better because it is a real piece of paper and you have something there backing you up," said Troy French.
"It actually brought a few tears to my eye," said Dan Maltbie.
Maltbie and Gary Houston have been together for 30 years and tied the knot in Vernmont back in 2003. For months, they have been fighting to file for a joint bankruptcy on the federal level and now they have been assured it will go through. "It's another relief, another relief and a good one," said Maltbie.
"I was excited and think its fantastic," said congressional candidate April Freeman.
Freeman is running for Congress in a couple years and says there is still a lot of work to be done for true equality. "We have to have marriage equality in every state. It has to be a federal law," she said.
Since Florida does not recognize same sex marriages, those who are married in another state and moved here may not be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of a marriage between a man and woman.
Not everyone is celebrating a victory. The Catholic Church teaches marriage is between a man and a woman. Those in the faith who oppose same-sex marriage tell say their best response now is to pray and to vote.
"We're a devout catholic couple," Thomas Wurtz said.
He and and his wife Kate walked out of Ave Maria Oratory Wednesday carrying their baby girl and some disappointment in their minds. "I think marriage is an institution between man and wife," Kurtz said. "i'm against the decision. It's a poor decision. We did some prayers for it this afternoon after one of our sessions here. It's definitely something on a lot of minds of a lot of the young people here."
In Ave Maria, a town surrounding the Catholic university, traditional marriage is the norm. Word of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act spread quickly.
"I've seen it all over Twitter and Facebook," Teresa Nuar said.
The first thought that came to nuar's mind when she heard the news is that "government can't change truth."
"The Church loves heterosexual couples. The church loves homosexual couples," Nuar said. "I am heterosexual and if I were to have sex outside of marriage, the Church would say the same thing. We don't like what you're doing. They are not condemning homosexuals, they are condemning what they are doing because what you do doesn't define who you are."
If God wanted two male parents or two female parents, Adam and Eve wouldn't be opposite sexes," Helen Jonas said. "It's the way God made it. God made it that way. He made us that way to procreate. Can't procreate the other way."
Catholics we spoke with said they're not surprised by the ruling. In fact, some expected it. And, they're ready to respond.
"Pretty much, vote and pray," Jonas said. "I think Catholics need to get a voice."
"I think society will come to see as it unfolds, the detriment that will have on family life which is the basic unit of society," Wurtz said.
Congressman Trey Radel also opposes the ruling. He said, "When our Federal Government starts defining and deciding marriage, here's what happens next. Our churches and our synagogues are threatened because we may have rabbis or priests who are asked to marry people of the same sex. And then, it becomes a lawsuit when they decide not to because the Federal Government is involved."