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Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiff Discusses The Historic Win At The High Court


Let's go outside the court right now to a same-sex couple from Tennessee. Their case was actually at the heart of the decision that was given by the court today. It's Tom Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe. Do I have you on the line? And I hope I'm pronouncing your names right.

IJPE DEKOE: You do, you've actually just got myself. This is Ijpe DeKoe.


DEKOE: Tom is on the other phone with friends and family right now. As you can well imagine, both our telephones pretty much blew up like Christmas.

GREENE: I can imagine (laughter).

DEKOE: It's been a very intense - how many minutes has it been even? But yes, we are here.

GREENE: Remind me about your relationship, how the two of you met and sort of where your efforts, you know, pushing for legal marriage, you know, how we got here.

DEKOE: Well, Tom and I have known each other for a very long time. We first met as teenagers. We worked at a camp together as counselors, remained friends for over a decade, and then shortly before the deployment that I went on in 2011, we started up our relationship again. And we're making plans to move in, and with the pending deployment, I actually - we mutually proposed to one another and were married in New York legally about 11 days after New York had struck down its marriage ban. And then we were stationed in Memphis, Tenn. where our marriage was not recognized. So we had that weird hey, you're married and then it never happened.

GREENE: Wow, and you're an Army reservist. You were actually on a base, I mean, with federal law. And was your marriage recognized on the base but sort of not elsewhere in the state of Tennessee? How did that work?

DEKOE: Yeah, exactly. I'm active duty reserve, so I'm full time in the reserve. And as long as I was on the base, we were married. And when we stepped off the base into Tennessee, the state law applies and we were not married, which was very unfair. And it doesn't - and that goes for any occupation. You shouldn't have to base your decision of where you're going to live and work on am I going to be recognized today or not? That's fundamentally unfair.

GREENE: Ijpe, can I just ask you - this is such a day to celebrate for you and Tom. There're people in this country who, you know, are sort of still, I don't know, figuring out how they feel about this issue. What do you tell people who are not comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage?

DEKOE: I - one thing we've realized as we've gone through this first, the Tennesseans and Memphians have been very welcoming of us, it's really just a state law. It's also very hard for people to dislike and distrust what they come to know. So a lot of it comes from folks who don't know us or don't know couples like us. And then as they've gotten to know us, as they've gotten to hear our story and become our friends, they've accepted us. So I've actually had quite a few friends in and out of the military - and Tom as well - who had a position and have come to change that position based on moving from that unknown to the known.

GREENE: Well, I want to let you and Tom get back to talking to your friends and family. I know Tom is on the other line. I know this is a very meaningful day for you. Thanks so much for talking to us, we really appreciate it.

DEKOE: Oh, thank you for having us. We really appreciate it also.

GREENE: That's Ijpe DeKoe. He and his husband Tom Kostura were legally married in the state of New York, but their marriage has not been recognized in the state of Tennessee until today. Their case was at the heart of a landmark Supreme Court decision. The court decided in a 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States of America. We'll be covering this decision reaction from all sides throughout the day on air and online at npr.org. A big day at the court. The court decided that same-sex marriage is legal across this country. You'll hear more about it on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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