The Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage in all 50 states with a landmark decision that any law prohibiting same-sex unions violates the Constitution.
This milestone ruling will bring relief to tens of thousands of same sex couples who faced an uphill battle to legalize their unions and extend marriage equality nationwide.
Currently, 14 states prohibit gay marriage. It is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry, regardless of the state they live in. It said states may no longer reserve rights for just heterosexual couples.
“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote. He was joined by the four liberal justices on the court.
At a news conference after the historic ruling, President Barack Obama said it was many little things, over many years, that made this possible.
It’s the “consequence of the countless small acts of courage of million of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents. Parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were. Slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”
He went on to say “Those countless, often anonymous, heroes – they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud.”
“It’s my hope that gay marriage will be a thing of the past. It will simply be marriage,” Jim Obergefell, a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, said after the ruling.
Within an hour of the ruling President Barack Obama called Obergefell on live TV and told him: “Your leadership on this has changed the country.”
“I really appreciate that, Mr. President. It’s really been an honor for me to be involved in this fight and to have to been able to, you know, fight for my marriage and live up to my commitments to my husband. So I appreciate everything you’ve done for the lgbt community and it’s really an honor to become part of that fight,” Obergefell said.
The President went on to say: “Not only have you been a great example for people but you’re also going to bring about lasting change in this country. And it’s pretty rare where that happens.”
The ruling will not immediately allow gay couples to marry in states where it is banned. The losing side of any case has three weeks to ask the court for reconsideration. However, some clerks may begin granting marriage certificates immediately to same-sex couples.
Outside the courthouse the decision was met with cheers. Celebrations also broke out across the country.
The White House was also celebratory, calling the decision “an extraordinary achievement” on Twitter, and reiterating that “ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”