Hero of marriage ruling honors early gay rights protesters

Jim Obergefell, center, the man behind the landmark Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, looks to Malcolm Lazin, right, with the Equality Forum, after they laid down a wreath at the Gay Pioneers historical marker across from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, Thursday, July 2, 2015, in Philadelphia. Some 40 activists picketed for gay rights on July Fourth in 1965 at the site. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Jim Obergefell, center, the man behind the landmark Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, looks to Malcolm Lazin, right, with the Equality Forum, after they laid down a wreath at the Gay Pioneers historical marker across from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, Thursday, July 2, 2015, in Philadelphia. Some 40 activists picketed for gay rights on July Fourth in 1965 at the site. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A teenage girl teared up as she hugged the man whose lawsuit led the Supreme Court to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.

Regina Sullivan embraced Jim Obergefell before he placed a wreath Thursday near Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to commemorate one of the first gay rights protests 50 years ago.

The 17-year-old Sullivan says she just wanted to thank Obergefell.

Obergefell says he’s been stopped and thanked repeatedly. He says he’s still trying to process the highest court’s decision that’s brought joy and happiness to millions of people.

Obergefell says the protesters in Philadelphia on July 4, 1965 took great risks and laid the groundwork for his case.

Organizers of the 50th anniversary event say the timing of the marriage ruling was fortuitous.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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