Huge news coming out of Washington today representing a major with for same-sex marriage and LGBT allies. In a 5-4 ruling, the high court officially paved the way for same-sex marriages nationwide, ruling that bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional.
Justices answered two questions. First, does the 14th Amendment require states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and then, does that same amendment require a state to recognize legally valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere?
Their answer was a resounding “yes” and paves the way for same-sex marriages in all 50 states.
The ruling means gay marriage bans will be overturned in 14 states. Those are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
“Today’s ruling affirms what millions of people across this country already know to be true in our hearts: Our love is equal” Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff reportedly said outside of the Supreme Court after the ruling. “It is my hope that the term gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past. It will simply be marriage. And our nation will be better for it.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinion in the case. He wrote:
“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.”
Kennedy continued: “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Each of the four dissenters wrote their own opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts commented on the constitutionality of today’s ruling writing: “If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
And in a particularly angry dissent, the always cantankerous Antonin Scalia took to his typical literary drama and conservative subterfuge.
“‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,'” he quoted from the majority opinion before adding, “Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”
“The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”
Today’s decision follows years of historic rulings furthering the quest for marriage equality. There was Romer v. Evans, which found that a state could not prohibit gay people from receiving protection against discrimination; Lawrence v. Texas found anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional; There’s the Windsor ruling that gutted DOMA; and now, Obergefell.
Today’s date – June 26 – is also the anniversary of the Windsor and Lawrence decisions. The ruling comes as the LBGT community and its allies celebrate the 42 anniversary of the Stonewall riots that marked the birth of the LGBT rights movement and as St. Pete prepares for its annual Gay Pride event.