Today's decision is a landmark for the law and an important development for the entire nation.

With plain but compelling logic, the judge has shown us all why in a nation committed to fairness, gays and lesbians must not be shut out of marriage. But this decision is most important to the thousands of same-sex couples who desperately need the protection that marriage gives, and who deserve the dignity it brings.

Gays and lesbians are our firefighters, teachers, doctors and neighbors and they deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans. Our constitution promises liberty to all; this decision takes us a step closer to that promise.