Big smiles and excited eyes were all around at one Greenwich Village synagogue on Wednesday noon. Members of Beit Simchat Torah, a congregation that has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights for four decades, were stopping by to congratulate each other and celebrate the historic moment.
Two hours earlier, the Supreme Court delivered landmark victories for gay rights, forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage for the first time and striking down California’s effort to ban it.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who is a lesbian and leader of the Simchat Torah congregation, said the importance of the Supreme Court ruling could not be overstated.
“It is saying that the highest court in our land will not stand for discrimination,” said Kleinbaum. “It is saying that’s not OK.”
Beit Simchat Torah was established in 1973 at the heart of Greenwich Village, a neighborhood that serves as a hub for New York’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual community. The synagogue is located a few blocks away from Stonewall, the site of the 1969 riots, a monumental event that launched the fight for LGBT rights in the U.S. The congregation includes members from different ages and backgrounds.
A few of them agreed to go on camera to share their feelings following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.