The Supreme Court on Friday in a 5 to 4 decision ruled that gay couples have the right to marry in all states.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote in many cases, wrote the majority opinion:
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. 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. 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.
President Obama immediately praised the decision on Twitter:
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
Obama later spoke about the decision in the Rose Garden, calling the ruling a “victory for America.”
Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt
The Washington Post’s Katie Park on how same-sex marriage became legal across the country and Robert Barnes with the story on the court’s decision:
The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage…
All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote separate opinions.
Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, “This is a court, not a legislature.”
From Roberts’s dissent:
Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not. The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.
Democrats widely cheered the ruling, while some congressional Republicans criticized the court. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) argued the justices are “legislating from the bench.”
“This is not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances,” he said in a statement.
Reaction also began rolling in from the campaign trail where Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton praised the ruling:
Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality—& the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 26, 2015
Former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said the court should have left the issue to the states:
Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.
And Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey O. Graham urged his party to move on:
I am a proud defender of traditional marriage and believe the people of each state should have the right to determine their marriage laws. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and I will respect the Court’s decision. Furthermore, given the quickly changing tide of public opinion on this issue, I do not believe that an attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution could possibly gain the support of three-fourths of the states or a supermajority in the U.S. Congress. Rather than pursing a divisive effort that would be doomed to fail, I am committing myself to ensuring the protection of religious liberties of all Americans.