The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that has effectively legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
The court issued a 5-4 ruling Friday on Obergefell v. Hodges that struck down state bans marriage equality.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Anthony Kennedy ruled with the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts was joined in dissent by Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Clarence Thomas.
The court heard two and a half hours of arguments April 28 in the case, which consolidated cases legal challenges from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
“The petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect — and need — for its privileges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the petitioners’ own experience,” the majority found.
The case hinged on whether states where same-sex marriage is banned should be required to recognize same-sex unions conducted legally in other states.
“The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State,” the majority found.
A string of federal court rulings in the 2013 United States v. Windsor ruling – which struck down a federal ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional – had already struck down bans in a number of states.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” Kennedy wrote for the majority. “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.”