Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal Everywhere in the US

Claire Bernish
June 26, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Friday, June 26, 2015, has just become an historic date: citing the 14th Amendment’s equal protection for all citizens, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage. For LGBT Americans and civil rights advocates nationwide, the groundbreaking decision marks a fitting and joyful conclusion to lengthy battles fraught with controversy and discrimination.

In his eight-page dissenting rant—er—opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia likened the legal reasoning behind the ruling to a “fortune cookie,” but the majority’s decision displayed the grace and dignity of a living law. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who cast the long-anticipated swing vote, read the ruling in Obergefell vs. Hodges:

“The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change […] Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations […] No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. 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 civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Praising the foresight of flexibility with which the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment were written, the majority explained the law’s authors had, “entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.” The landmark decision is congruous with changing national opinion—aided by tireless activism to fight longstanding prejudice surrounding same-sex relationships—as reflected in a Pew Research Center poll in 2013 which found 85% of respondents favored legal same-sex marriage.

According to the court’s listed “four principles and traditions,” marriage is a fundamental right under the Constitution because it “is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy, supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals, safeguards children and families, and is a keystone of the Nation’s social order.”

As expected, the conservative Justices were vehemently opposed, but Scalia was the most outspoken of the four. His melodramatic dissenting opinion described the majority’s opinion as “couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egoistic.” He added,

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.”

Even as Friday marks an unprecedented cause for celebration for the LGBT community and advocates around the country, social and cultural backlash seems a predictable inevitability. Though a significant obstacle to equality has been removed, acceptance and tolerance as a prevailing national attitude—as evidenced in Scalia’s dissent—are likely many years down the road.

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