Rejoice: U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Right to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

Rejoice: U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Right to Marry for Same-Sex Couples
File photo by Ted Eytan/Flickr

UPDATE at 8:30 a.m., Friday, June 26: See the latest comments from President Obama and local leaders at the bottom.

Two years ago, almost to the day, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated California's Mormon-led ban on same-sex marriage.

In a 5-4 vote this morning, the nation's high court sided with same-sex couples from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan who challenged their own states' bans on such unions.

The Constitution forbids discrimination, the majority ruled. Same-sex marriage is an American right.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. He concluded:

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 couples had argued that the prohibitions violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. The court weighed whether these rights exist for LGBT couples and whether states can be required to allow such marriages.

During oral arguments in April, Mary L. Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, told the court:

To the extent that if you’re talking about the fundamental right to marry as a core male­-female institution, I think when we look at the 14th Amendment, we know that it provides enduring guarantees in that what we once viewed as the role of women, or even the role of gay people, is something that has changed in our society.

...  Times can blind. And if you think about the example of sex discrimination and what it ­­— again, I assume it was protected by the 14th Amendment, but it took over 100 years for this Court to recognize that a sex classification contravened the Constitution.

UPDATE at 7:53 a.m., Friday, June 26: Speaking outside the Supreme Court, Bonauto said, "Today was a momentous decision and it's going to bring joy to millions of families across this land."

State Sen. Mark Leno said in a statement:

Today’s ruling is a defining moment for our nation that dignifies and validates couples who will no longer be treated differently because of who they are and who they love. This is a long-sought victory for so many people who dared to believe that love, liberty and basic fairness would eventually prevail. The court’s decision affirms that every American is created equal, loves equally and should be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. 

L.A. city councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice and parts of the Westside, said:

Love wins.

Just over a decade ago, marriage equality was legal nowhere in the United States. Today, my husband Sean and I celebrate a breathtaking decision that affirms the right to marry nationwide.

As we celebrate this historic day, the most important thing I can say is simply "Thank you." Thank you to every grassroots activist who took to the streets. To every person living paycheck to paycheck who sacrificed to make a donation to the cause. To every straight ally who said "No more" to inequality. To every person who found their courage, burst open a closet door and told their story. To every person who listened to their heart, fought for their love and made equality happen. It is you who forced our spring. It is you who made today possible. Thank you.

Rejoice: U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Right to Marry for Same-Sex Couples
File photo by Natasha Bishop/L.A. Weekly Flickr pool

UPDATE at 8:08 p.m., Friday, June 26, 2015: In a phone call, President Obama told lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell that his efforts changed the nation. "I couldn't be prouder of you," Obama said. "God bless you."

UPDATE at 8:22 a.m., Friday, June 26, 2015: Addressing the nation from the White House Rose Garden, Obama said:

"Sometimes there are days like this — when that slow steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

"Today," he said, "we say in no uncertain terms that we made our union a little more perfect."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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