WASHINGTON (WJZ)– The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, a historic culmination of decades of litigation over gay marriage and gay rights generally.

What has been Maryland law for two years now the law of the land across the country, many same sex couples here say it’s that final legal protection they had been waiting for.

Derek Valcourt has local reaction to this national same sex marriage victory

Ed Zarkowski and Tony Viglione tied the knot in 2013 after Maryland passed marriage equality. They’re now among the thousands of Maryland couples reacting to the Supreme Court ruling forcing all 50 states to recognize their marriage.

Valcourt: “Describe how this feels today?”

“Extreme joy. I was floored when I saw it today,”said Ed Zarkowski.

Like many gay couples, they feel the ruling helps protect their family when they cross state lines and say it’s even more important with the recent arrival of their second daughter Darian.

Valcourt: “What did it mean before when your marriage was not recognized in all 50 states?

“It meant we weren’t equal to everybody else in the country whose marriages are recognized no matter where they go. In this country and around the world,” said Zarkowski.

At the center of the Supreme Court case, Jim Obergefell.

In 2013, he and his terminally ill partner John Flew to Maryland to marry before John’s death. Jim took his fight to have his Maryland marriage recognized on John’s Ohio death certificate. One of many legal issues Keith Thirion with equality Maryland says the high court ruling now resolves

“It just felt amazing to see that love can be recognized as love across the country that there isn’t a patchwork quilt of protections when it comes to relationship recognitions was huge,” said Keith Thirion.

Across Maryland, reaction poured in from Baltimore’s mayor who tweeted she was so proud and Senator Ben Cardin who tweeted “#LoveIsLove”. And Former Governor O’Malley even stopped by the Supreme Court to take part in the celebration.

Equality Maryland says they’ll continue to battle discrimination against LGBT people and continue to fight for more LGBT protections in state laws.

The ruling is the largest expansion of marriage since the court struck down bans on inter-racial marriages in 1967.

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