Supreme Court Thunderbolt Claims Nationwide Same-Sex Marriage USA
In a tectonic shift, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision Friday that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage coast-to-coast.Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrotethe majority opinion for the four other more liberal justices.
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,Kennedy wrote. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.
In a major development, the court dealt with an issue that has humiliated children of parents who were in a same-sex relationship but unable to marry. This ruling shows that same-sex marriage is good for them, not bad.Justice Kennedy continued,
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, Kennedy said. 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.
What It Means
Refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the Constitution.
Today’s ruling means the bans against same-sex marriage must end in the states where it is still illegal: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
In just a few years the country moved quickly on the issue of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court, a staid institution, moved quickly with it.
The landmark ruling is the most significant change since the court struck down state bans on inter-racial marriage almost 50 years ago.
With the court using the 14th Amendment as its argument, we see this as an issue of equality in a fundamental sense, as an evolution of the country. In a powerful argument, the issue was likened to race. The 14th Amendment protects, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.
The decision came after decades of litigation and activism with polls indicating that, now, most Americans approve of same-sex marriage.
The Argument For Same-Sex Marriage
The court heard extended arguments in April in a case filed by gay and lesbian couples in Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan.
Plaintiff attorneys argued their clients had a fundamental right to marry and for equal protection. Dignity is a word often used in their decision. The bans demeaned their couples’ dignity, inflicted harm on their children, and placed innumerable practical difficulties on their children.
Gay and lesbian people are equal. They deserve equal protection of the laws, and they deserve it now.
The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage
In a surprising turn, Chief Justice Kennedy indicated that a disagreement was based largely upon conservative rejection of same-sex marriage. Many thought Kennedy might be the swing vote.
Roberts wrote the opposing argument, that the court had taken an extraordinary step by not leaving this issue to the states. The Constitution, he claims, does not define marriage.
Lawyers in dissent disagreed sharply over their interpretation of the Constitution on same-sex marriage.
Background: Same-sex Marriage USA
The Supreme Court consciously decided not to act, refusing to hear appeals as late as last October. That decision gave the country time to expand the number of states with same-sex marriage. That number has since grown to 36.
United States v. Windsor decision struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevented federal benefits for same-sex couples who had been married in states allowing their unions. It has been an important piece of same-sex marriage legislation.
President Obama initially disagreed with the concept of same-sex marriage, but he has come to gradually embrace it and urged the justices to rule for the plaintiffs.
In the not-too-distant future, we will no longer hear gay marriage. Instead it will just be marriage. On this historic day, this is not just a good day for the LGBT community, it is a good day for the country.