WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – By a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the sixth circuit’s decision and ends bans against same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage now is legal in all 50 states.
Prior to the ruling, same-sex marriage still was illegal in 13 states.
Actions of state and local official will determine how quickly gay couples can marry, though many have prepared for this ruling, setting up protocols to handle a surge of new marriage applicants.
“What can happen and should happen is that states should start issuing marriage licenses almost immediately,” James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and AIDS Project, told Vox Media. “Once the Supreme Court rules, it’s the law of the land.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion on the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito each wrote dissents.
Kennedy said in his opinion: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful real, to define and express their identity. … The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution – even as confined to opposite-sex relations – has evolved over time.”
President Obama tweeted shortly after the ruling: “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”