The dissenting Supreme Court opinions issued today in a ruling that ended state bans on same-sex marriage ranged from ridiculous to depraved, with justices Antonin Scalia invoking hippies and Clarence Thomas saying the government can’t bestow dignity on gays because of slavery and internment camps.
But speaking for the 5-4 majority in Obergefell v. Hodges , Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote perhaps the most graceful and moving prose of his career.
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 Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.