Striking down bans in 14 states and handing a historic victory to the gay rights movement that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, the Supreme Court of the Untied States has found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The ruling was made by a 5-4 decision.
Now, all throughout the country, people are free to marry whomever they love – no matter what their sex.
The United States is now just the 21st country in the world to allow same-sex marriage in every jurisdiction.
Anthony Kennedy, a conservative justice who has broken with his ideological colleagues to author several decisions expanding rights for LGBT people, again sided with the court’s four liberals to strike down the state bans. The 5-4 majority ruled that preventing same-sex people from marrying violated their constitutional right to equal protection under the law and that the states were unable to put forth a compelling reason to withhold that right from people.
In oral arguments last April, Kennedy expressed reservations about changing the traditional definition of marriage to include LGBT people and seemed to suggest that the court should allow the American public to continue debating the relatively new concept.
“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case ismillennia,” he said then, referencing the amount of time societies had considered marriage to be only between a man and a woman.
But Kennedy was swayed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples already exist and that they — and their children — are being treated differently by the law when they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union.
The states in the case also had trouble articulating why they had a compelling reason to deny that recognition, saying only that it was in the interest of children to only allow couples of the opposite sex to marry.
The decision came just two years after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could no longer refuse to recognize married same-sex couples who lived in the handful of states that had legalized their unions. That decision, also written by Kennedy, caused a cascade of lower court decisions striking down state same-sex marriage bans, and now 36 states allow same-sex marriage.
Public opinion on gay marriage has changed at lightning speed as well: 60 percent of Americans support it, compared with just 37 percent 10 years ago.
This transformative opinion will most likely continue the trend toward greater acceptance of LGBT people around the country, as the highest court of the land has ruled that same-sex unions are legitimate and lawful everywhere.
This is a incredible victory for equality in a world where being gay is illegal and punishable in 76 countries and will hopefully inspire American allied countries to change their opposing and backwards LGBT views.
Image Source: ABC News