A little more than a year ago, Melissa Garrett and Jacqueline Reed were treated as second-class citizens in Pennsylvania.

The West York couple's relationship wasn't "traditional" enough for those arrogant enough to assume they deserved a say in the matter.

Then in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the mean-spirited federal Defense of Marriage Act was an unconstitutional attack on "the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment."

The landmark decision guaranteed federal benefits that had been denied since 1996 to same sex couples legally married in states that allow gay marriage.

More importantly, it undercut the justification for states' same-sex marriage bans, which have been falling like dominoes.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, proponents of gay marriage have won more than 20 lower court decisions around the country, according to The Associated Press. Most of those are under appeal, but 19 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages.

On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear, in a single sitting, challenges to bans in four states — Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

The decisions overturning same-sex marriage bans coincide with a steady increase in public support for marriage equality, which reached an all-time high of 55 percent in May.

The opinions also share a respect for the principles of equality and due process cited by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in his May 20 ruling against Pennsylvania's ban.


"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," Jones wrote.

The judge acknowledged some people are "uncomfortable" with same-sex marriage, but also noted that doesn't make bans an less unconstitutional.

"Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection," he wrote. "Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of 'separate but equal.'"

Pennsylvania has come a long way in the very short time since the ruling and Gov. Tom Corbett's decision not to appeal.

On Sunday, Garrett and Reed, who have been together for 22 years, exchanged vows alongside eight other couples in a group ceremony during York City's inaugural Equality Fest. Six hundred well-wishers were on hand at Cherry Lane Park to serve as witnesses.

The occasion symbolized the whirlwind pace of marriage equality victories, but for Garrett it fulfilled the simple desire at the very heart of the matter.

"We wanted to celebrate our love," she said.