Same-sex marriage is now legal in every state in the United States after a ruling by the United States Supreme Court.
A little more than 11 years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples have the right to marry and that laws that barred such marriages are, in fact, unconstitutional.
“Were the Court to uphold the challenged laws as constitutional, it would teach the Nation that these laws are in accord with our society’s most basic compact,” Justice Anthonhy Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “Were the Court to stay its hand to allow slower, case-by-case determination of the required availability of specific public benefits to same-sex couples, it still would deny gays and lesbians many rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.”
Within hours, same-sex couples in states that had previously not allowed same-sex marriages were lining up at courthouses to get married.
More from 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.
New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that state law allowed same-sex couples to marry in December of 2013. Since that ruling was based on the state constitution, the ruling by the United States Supreme Court will not change anything in New Mexico.
However for over a dozen states that still did not allow same-sex marriage—some of which had outright bans on same-sex marriage—it means that same-sex couples will be able to marry without traveling to other states.
Legislative attempts to overturn the same-sex marriage decision by Republican legislators in 2014 did not go anywhere. In 2015, there were no such attempts. Even if they had been successful in placing constitutional amendments on the ballot, it would be nullified by Friday’s decision.
The dissent, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, says that the Constitution has nothing to say about same-sex marriage.
“The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage,” Roberts wrote. “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.”
Justice Antonin Scalia dissented and, true to his image, was highly critical of the majority opinion.
“The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis,” Scalia wrote.
Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito also dissented. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer joined the majority.
The decision comes after a long run of the country’s high court ruling in favor of same-sex couples.
Read the full SCOTUS decision here.