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Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Couples May Marry in Every State
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In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that the states may not enforce same-sex marriage bans.

Summary: In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that the states may not enforce same-sex marriage bans.

According to Fox News, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry across the country. The historic decision will invalidate bans on same-sex marriage in 14 states.

  
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Prior to the ruling, same-sex couples were able to marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Today, in a 5-4 ruling, the court determined that the 14th Amendment requires the states to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples and that they must recognize same-sex marriages that were conducted in other states.

Now, the 14 states that forbade same-sex marriage will have to lift their bans. As news of the ruling broke, several same-sex couples were on their way to their local courthouses to apply for marriage licenses. Three same-sex couples were given their licenses in Atlanta, and others were issued in Texas and Arkansas. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott released a memo that instructed state agency heads to protect religious freedoms.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority. Justice Kennedy also penned the court’s previous opinions on gay rights cases, the first of which dates back to 1996.

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The opinion read, “No union is more profound than marriage. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”

The status of same-sex marriage in Alabama was unclear for months.



The opinion also states, “Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples,” CNN added.

The ruling concludes twenty years of Supreme Court litigation over the marriage issue and other same-sex arguments. When the decision was announced, cheers were heard outside of the Supreme Court building.

In the Rose Garden, President Obama called the decision “a victory for America.”

Obama added that the decision would “end the patchwork system we currently have” and the uncertainty same-sex couples suffered as to whether their marriages would be recognized in other states. Obama commented, “This ruling will strengthen all of our communities.”

Did the court make the right decision?

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The dissenting justices argued that the Supreme Court should not force the states to change their definitions of marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts called the decision an “extraordinary step.” The dissent continues, “Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening…The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment.”

Roberts later wrote, “If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision…But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Each of the four justices that dissented wrote a separate opinion. Clearly frustrated with the ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent, “The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” according to MotherJones.com. Social conservatives expressed their dismay at the ruling. Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said that the decision places the government on a “collision course with America’s cherished religious freedoms.”

Many predicted the Supreme Court would support same-sex marriages.

The ruling does not take immediate effect because the losing side is given three weeks to seek reconsideration. However, some state officials and county clerks may decide to go ahead and issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Seated left to right: Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing left to right: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Justice Elena Kagan.

Seated left to right: Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing left to right: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Justice Elena Kagan.

The cases the court considered centered on laws from Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Those four states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry, and they have also refused to acknowledge same-sex marriages performed in other states. Their bans on same-sex marriage were previously affirmed by a federal appeals court.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal marriage laws that denied government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

There are roughly 390,000 married same-sex couples. It is likely that another 70,00 that live in states that banned same-sex marriage will be married in the next three years. Around 1 million same-sex couples, both married and unmarried, live together in the United States. These numbers are based on data from UCLA’s Williams Institute, which follows the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans.

The Obama administration has supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department’s 2011 decision to stop defending the anti-gay marriage law was a monumental moment for same-sex rights. The next year, Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage.

Read about Obama’s statements here.

Source: Fox News

Photo credit: CBS News, SupremeCourtHistory.org (Justices)



 

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