FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Eight thousand people were expected to attend this weekend's Pride Fest at Headwaters Park, and with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, attendees had more reasons to smile this year.
Last month, the Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Before the ruling, federal benefits were denied to same-sex couples who were legally married in the states they lived in.
Same-sex marriage supporters at Pride Fest said last month's news made for a better festival.
"There's definitely a good vibe here about the positive change forward we're having here," Jacob Clayton said.
Clayton has attended Pride Fest many times over the years. "Twenty years ago I never thought I could have a family or a child. Today, I have both, and I enjoy coming to Pride Fest to celebrate that."
Clayton said he and his partner have plans to get married in Iowa next month.
"A lot more celebrating, a lot more chances to be proud and out," Jessica Marquart, a same-sex supporter, said. "I hope that the DOMA case will encourage people to fight for their rights here in the state of Indiana."
That fight could begin as early as next year.
State legislators have said they expect to debate same-sex marriage at next year's session. They'll consider a referendum that will allow Hoosier voters to have the final say on whether or not an amendment will be added to the state constitution to strengthen the state's current ban.
Indiana Equality Action, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on the state's civil rights law to protect against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, is one group that will try to stop the referendum in its tracks.
Sutton said IEA is close to kicking off its campaign to voice its side of the issue.
Other Hoosier same-sex supporters said the topic is one worth fighting for.
"It's not just me, but i want to make sure my daughter has all the rights afforded to her as well," Clayton said. "I'll do anything to make that happen."
"The first will be to try to convince the legislator that this is bad public policy," Rick Sutton, the executive director of IEA, said. "If that's not successful, it'll go to the ballot and we'll be ready for that too."
The referendum could go on the ballot during the November 2014 election.
According to Sutton, Hoosiers are nearly split down on middle on the issue.
"People might think Indiana is conservative, but it seems more like a neutral state from where we're at," Nikki Fultz, the director of Fort Wayne Pride, said. "There's going to be some people against it and some people for it, but overall I think people are just going to let people be who they are and I think it'll be good."
Fultz said if the referendum is not passed by voters could possibly be the beginning of changing the definition of marriage in Indiana.
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