Get the tissues ready

By Diana Pearl
Updated June 26, 2015 03:45 PM
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Credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Landov

The Supreme Court made history on Friday by legalizing gay marriage across the United States in a 5-4 vote.

For the many couples and families whose lives will be forever changed by this monumental decision, it will be hard to put its impact into words – but these quotes from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion come pretty close.

Here, we sifted through over 30 pages to find some of the most powerful, heartwarming lines from that opinion.

On the ‘sanctity of marriage’:
“The Court must respect the basic reasons why the right to marry has been long protected.”

On the personal nature of the choice to marry:
“Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.”

On the nature of marriage:
“The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.”

On the dignity of equality:
“There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.”

On societal support:
“For that reason, just as a couple vows to support each other, so does society pledge to support the couple, offering symbolic recognition and material benefits to protect and nourish the union.”

On the unfairness of exclusion:
“There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle. Yet by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.”

On reasons to marry:
“Decisions about whether to marry and raise children are based on many personal, romantic and practical considerations, and it is unrealistic to conclude that an opposite-sex couple would choose not to marry simply because same-sex couples may do so.”

On respecting others:
“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”

On fundamental rights:
“Here, the marriage laws enforced by the respondents are in essence unequal: Same-sex couples are denied all the benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm.”

Nothing says it better than the final paragraph:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. 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. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”