On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the U.S. Constitution requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages, making marriage equality officially the law of the land.Two questions stood before the high court: Does the 14th Amendment require states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and does that same amendment require a state to recognize legally valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere?The court ruled that the answer to both questions is “yes,” clearing the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in all 50 states.
This post will be updated shortly (and repeatedly).
First Update: The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is online here (pdf). It’s a 5-4 decision, with Justice Kennedy writing for the majority. He was joined, of course, by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
Second Update: Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented. In an unusual move, each of them wrote their own dissenting opinion.
Third Update: Roberts read his dissent from the bench, which is reportedly a first since the Chief Justice joined the court a decade ago.
Fourth Update: From the majority’s ruling:
“The challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and they abridge central precepts of equality. The marriage laws at issue are in essence unequal: Same-sex couples are denied benefits afforded opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial works a grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate gays and lesbians.”
Fifth Update: Also from the majority:
“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.”
Sixth Update: As recently as 2004, marriage equality was legal in just one state. As of this morning, that number is now 50. As for the logistics – when, exactly, will the remaining holdouts have to begin applying this ruling in practice? – that information is still coming together. Watch this space.
Seventh Update: In his dissent, Robert takes a rather measured tone, even signaling to those with whom he disagrees, “Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration.” Scalia, on the other hand, condemned “this Court’s threat to American democracy.”
Eighth Update: An AP report notes what to expect in terms of implementation: “The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”