Local supporters, opponents watch national gay-rights debate closely

Local supporters, opponents watch national gay-rights debate closely
YAKIMA, Wash. -- We now wait for a couple of months to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about same-sex marriage in this country.

Supporters and opponents in Yakima paid close attention to the last two days of arguments.

Jose Estrada and his boyfriend walk hand in hand. Life hasn't always been easy.

"I used to get burned by lighters," said Estrada.

He was aware of the discrimination for being gay very early as a child in Texas.

"A predominately Hispanic, very Catholic community." Estrada said. "That's where I grew up so I understand they didn't know anything."

Jose is among the millions across the country watching this week's challenges in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Being gay in a small town in Eastern Washington is an adjustment.

"It's not so much about being gay," said Estrada. "It's about being conservative. It's a very conservative mind-think here."

The voting record shows that. Despite the statewide legalization of gay marriage in November, counties across Eastern Washington rejected it.

The most opposition came from Franklin County.

To get all sides, Action News reached out to the Yakima County Republican Party Chairman, who says he supports giving gay couples the same federal benefits as straight couples.

However, he opposes gay marriage.

"It's a lifestyle that's accepted in certain parts of the community, more secular parts of the community, that it will ever be in religious parts of the community," said Yakima County Republican Party Chairman John Puccinelli.

Both issues argued in the Supreme Court might end without a sweeping ruling that impacts the entire country.

Justices could decide they don't have the authority to hear the case regarding federally benefits for gay couples.

Jose wants the same rights as everyone else.

"You just need to take out church, you need to take out personal beliefs. You just need to understand this is just like, a human right," said Estrada.

There's some indication the high court could strike down the federal law that prevents legally married gay couples from receiving federal benefits for married people.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is often the swing vote in close cases.

His questions aligned with the four more liberal justices.