BREAKING: VICTORY at Supreme Court on Marriage Equality
JUNE 25 2015 9:55 AM ET UPDATED: JUNE 26 2015 10:44 AM ET
History was made at the U.S. Supreme Court today as the highest court in the land ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to legally marry, in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
In a 5-4 vote, the Court determined that the U.S. Constitution does indeed require states to allow same-sex marriages, effectively striking down existing bans in the 13 states and Puerto Rico, and requires every state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion, holding that the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The decision reverses a November 2014 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, OH, which upheld marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Tennessee plaintiff Dr. Valeria Tanco, who has a 1-year-old daughter with Dr. Sophy Jesty. said in a statement:
“We are overjoyed and grateful to the Supreme Court for finally putting an end to these damaging laws that have hurt so many families in Tennessee and across the country. We are grateful to every single member of our legal team, who have worked tirelessly to take down these discriminatory laws and finally bring the freedom to marry to the LGBT community. We would also like to thank our family, friends, and neighbors in Tennessee for all their support in this amazing and historic journey.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
“The opinion notes that religious institutions have a first amendment right to advocate against same sex marriage,” according to Eric Citron of SCOTUSBlog.
Outside the court, pro-marriage equality advocates cheered the decision.
Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the case, issued the following statement in reaction to the ruling:
“Today I could not be prouder of my country, more grateful for the memory of my late husband John, and more indebted to the incredible lawyers, advocates and fellow plaintiffs who made this landmark day possible. The fact that the state I have long called home will finally recognize my marriage to the man I honored and cherished for more than 20 years is a profound vindication—a victory I’m proud to share with countless more couples across the country. Thanks to the Supreme Court, a period of deep injustice in this nation is coming to a close, but it’s also clear today that there is still so much work to do. As long as discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is tolerated—whether in the seeking of a marriage license, the pursuit of fairness on the job, or the fight for equal treatment at a restaurant or business—we haven’t truly guaranteed equal justice under the law. But today’s victory proves that anything is possible, and I could not be more hopeful about the capacity of this country to change for the better.”
The American Humanist Organization applauded the court’s ruling: “Our country is finally moving beyond outdated, religious definitions of marriage,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This is a victory for all LGBTQ Americans and allies who fought vigorously against discrimination.”
Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, cheered the Supreme Court for expanding marriage equality nationwide:
“In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that all married couples—regardless of sexual orientation—are entitled to all of the fundamental rights and dignities that come with marriage. This is a monumental and incredibly meaningful decision for millions of American families. Millions of MoveOn members across the country will be celebrating today.
“This decision, which correctly interprets the Constitution, is a momentous step toward a society of greater freedom and equality for all.”
The American Military Partner Association, the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military families, had this to say:“From burial rights to veteran home loans to burial rights, today’s historic Supreme Court decision bringing marriage equality to every state in our great nation means that LGBT military families will finally have access to the full federal veterans benefits they’ve earned,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Nationwide marriage equality is not just a huge victory for LGBT people, but for America. ”
The National LGBTQ Task Force posted “We Won Marriage!” on its website. But its executive director, Rea Carey, warned this isn’t the last fight, though. “In the majority of these states across the country, discrimination in other areas of our lives is still legal,” she told reporters. “You can still be fired from your job you can be asked to leave a restaurant, you could be denied a hotelROOM on your honeymoon simply because of who you are and who you love. So we look forward to today as a continued foundation for our progress not only for LGBTQ people but for the country as a whole.”
Another issue before the Court was whether states can prohibit same-sex marriages, but still be required to recognize legal same-sex marriagesPERFORMED elsewhere. Because the court ruled that each state is constitutionally required to allow same-sex couples to marry, the question of recognition becomes a non-issue.
“Today is a historic day same-sex couples who deserve the equal recognition and protection of marriage, but for all who believe in the values of a just democracy,” said Penda D. Hair, Co-Director of Advancement Project. “As a multiracial, next-generation civil rights organization, we applaud the Supreme Court for making a pivotal decision affirming equality for all people.”
Matt Thorn, interim executive director of OutServe-SLDN, said in a statement:
“While we take pleasure in this decision by SCOTUS, there is still much work to do. We need open transgender military service, gender identity inclusion as a protected class in the Military Equality Opportunity Program, a comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a comprehensive immigration plan for LGBT couples and families, a renewed focus toward domestic HIV care and support, a plan to address LGBT homelessness, to name a few, but today we celebrate this victory and join together as a community in the goals and achievements that we have been able to accomplish in the last five decades.
There were so many papers filed by the high court on this decision that it took three boxes to hold them all.
Even though the ruling was announced today, the justices actually voted sometime before May 1, and their decision has been known only to them and their clerks.