Who Are Ijpe DeKoe & Thomas Kostura? Two Men Who Just Achieved Marriage Equality For Everyone

On Friday morning, the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, the high-profile same-sex marriage lawsuit which activists had been waiting on for months. And when the ruling finally came down, all the years of working and fighting were made good — same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, an absolutely unthinkable reality as recently as a decade ago. So, why not get to know a couple of the plaintiffs who helped usher in this new era? Maybe you've wondered: who are Ijpe DeKoe and Thomas Kostura, and how are they reacting to this historic news?

For starters, here's who DeKoe and Kostura are to the gay rights movement — two men whose refusal to bow down to discriminatory marriage laws helped set the course for this historic day. As Mashable detailed back in April, while both men were at the Supreme Court to watch oral arguments, DeKoe and Kostura were married in New York back in 2011, but had since moved to Tennessee, a state that didn't recognize same-sex marriages.

As a result, their existing marriage was functionally null and void in the eyes of their new home state. They decided to take the challenge head-on, filing a lawsuit that was ultimately consolidated into Obergefell v. Hodges, and as you might expect, they seem pretty damn excited right now.

NCLRights on YouTube
DeKoe: I'm keeping it together, barely. Barely.
Kostura: A little overwhelmed, a little surprised...
DeKoe: ...talking to family, called a good friend of ours, a couple, a single man each, told them to get their paperwork straight, they were laughing and crying too. We're so happy for the people of Tennessee, this is amazing.

DeKoe sells himself and the other plaintiffs a little short when he expressed his joy "for the people of Tennessee," and that's undoubtedly the most incredible fact in all this — same-sex marriage is now legal in any state in the country, a Constitutionally protected right. It's even legal now in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In all, thanks to the efforts of DeKoe, Kostura, and the other Obergefell plaintiffs, the United States is now the 21st country to have fully legalized same-sex marriage.

In their reaction video, the pair went on to thank and credit many people who helped them throughout the process, including the National Center For Lesbian Rights, which posted their message to their YouTube account on Friday morning.

Kostura: It's pretty big. As much as you tell yourself, convince yourself that it's gonna come out your way, and that it's not gonna be an emotional thing, it's actually quite overwhelming. We'd also really like to thank everyone for being who are they, being honest and telling people, because that's what really made this happen. Everyone who's come out to their family and friends, and made being who they are not a foreign thing. Made it familiar to everyone.

Hear, hear! A hearty congratulations to DeKoe and Kostura, and to all the same-sex couples throughout America who've had their marriage rights affirmed. It was a long process, and at times deeply harrowing, but those wild dreams of nationwide marriage equality have finally come to pass.