The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favour of gay marriage.
In a landmark 5-4 decision, the highest judicial authority in the country has made it legal for same sex couples to marry in all 50 states. Prior to the ruling, only 37 states and Washington DC permitted same sex unions.
The Court determined that gay couples’ right to marry was protected under the fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution. Commonly known as the ‘Equal Protection Clause’, this states that legal rights and privileges should extend to all American citizens.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed to the Court in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, cast the deciding vote in favour of legalisation along with four liberal justices.
In his opinion for the majority, he wrote:
“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.
The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.”
He added that the right to marry for same sex couples was “based in history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond”.
President Obama tweeted:
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden tweeted that American law now recognised the “simple truth” that “all marriages at their root are about love”.
Although many were jubilant, the Supreme Court’s decision has angered many opponents of gay marriage.
Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the Court’s ruling an “out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny” and an “irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states”.
Photo of the US Supreme Court by David Ohmer via Flickr