In a landmark 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has made same-sex marriage legal in the United States. That means marriage equality has come to all 50 states, including the 13 states where same-sex marriage is illegal.
There is a right to marriage equality!— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 26, 2015
Today's ruling covers four cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, in which the courts in each respective state asked to uphold marriage bans. In the Supreme Court's opinion, Justice Kennedy writes that the history of marriage is one of "continuity and change" and that the times have changed to meet the needs of gays and lesbians in the country. Marriage between straight couples doesn't differ from marriage between same-sex couples, so upholding laws that discriminate against them is unlawful:
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. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the SixthCircuit is reversed. It is so ordered.
President Obama took to Twitter swiftly to respond to the watershed decision:
However, the dissenting opinions in today's ruling were given plenty to room to air their grievances. Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Thomas, Alito, and Scalia all argued that the ruling was unconstitutional, and that the power to lift marriage bans should be left with the states. Scalia even went out of his way to state that who people choose to marry doesn't even matter to him, but the debate concerning how marriage should function in America today should be allowed to continue without the Supreme Court's interference.
Despite dissenting opinions, this was inevitable
While the debate may continue as states like Kentucky briefly resist today's ruling, there's no question that the Supreme Court's decision finally brings about the sweeping change activists have demanded for decades, and that most of America has come around to in recent years.