In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has made same-sex marriage legal across the United States.
The high court has voted 5-4 in favor of marriage equality with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion.
‘The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,’ Kennedy wrote. ‘This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.’
Kennedy also wrote that laws banning same-sex marriage are unfair to gay couples and to their children.
‘No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,’ he wrote.
‘It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves … They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.’
Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, one of four to vote against marriage equality, blasted the decision by the court’s majority as a ‘threat to American democracy.’
He wrote that the ruling ‘says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.’
The ruling comes in gay marriage cases from four states (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) that have been consolidated into Ohio case Obergefell v. Hodges.
In each of those cases, federal judges had struck down marriage bans but those decisions were reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit which resulted in the Supreme Court taking the issue on.
The high court’s decision comes at a time that same-sex marriage is already legal in 37 US states plus the District of Columbia.
It was two years ago today that the court struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act which resulted in same-sex marriages being recognized on a feeral level.
It was also on that day in 2013 that the justices allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California by upholding the striking down of Proposition 8.
In order, the other 20 countries where same-sex marriage is already legal: the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil (2013), France (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), United Kingdom (2014), Luxembourg (2015), Finland (2015), Greenland (2015), and Ireland (2015).
President Barack Obama tweeted immediately after the ruling: ‘Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else.