History has been made as the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. “No longer may this liberty be denied,” wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for the majority in the landmark decision. Justice Kennedy continued stating that marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” adding that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
After a culmination of years of litigation and gay rights activism nationwide, citizens were ecstatic and brought to tears as the first same-sex marriages in several states could now take place. With the timing of the gay pride parade in San Francisco, the timing of the opinion could not be overlooked. This decision came after a swift change in public open, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.
The ruling puts an end to same-sex marriage bans in 14 states that still restrict them. One third of the states had already permitted same-sex marriages before the ruling took place. After the ruling was read by Justice Kennedy, euphoria could be heard from inside and outside of the courtroom. The immediate issuance of marriage licenses were provided to same-sex couples in at least eight states and those who fled to other states to get married now plan to wed in their home states.
Obergefell vs. Hodges, a gay man filed suit in case his home state of Ohio so that the state bureaucracy would recognize him as the widower of his late partner of 21 years, John Arthur. The two were legally married in Maryland just a few months before Arthur died in 2013—but in 2004, Ohio voters amended their state constitution to prohibit gay marriage from being recognized. Finally, Obergefell has found justice.
This Supreme Court decision will surely change social norms throughout our nation. There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, and this will continue to grow following the ruling. The states affected by this ruling are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
For more: Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage