The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage In Every State
Today is a historic day. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Same-sex couples across the country will soon be able marry and know that their marriage will be recognized and respected no matter the state. This decision affirms what a supermajority of Americans believe—that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to all. Now that we are one step closer on our march toward equality it is time to build on today’s progress to outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination in all areas of life, from the workplace to the public marketplace.
Today’s victory happened because of the tireless work of advocates and the quiet courage of and everyday LGBT individuals who loved proudly, talked with friends and family and opened hearts and minds. It couldn’t have happened without you.
Today’s opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, was not a perfect victory, but it was an enormous one nonetheless. Kennedy’s opinion did not apply “heightened scrutiny” which would have required all laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation to be treated with skepticism by the courts (more on that here). But it did do two very significant other things. First, it effectively killed whatever was left of the debate about whether people can choose who they love. And second, the opinion ruled that marriage is a fundamental right that applies to same-sex couples.
The opinion ends: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family… [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” It is powerfully written and well worth a full read.
There were four different dissents, each filled with their own hysterics. Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent was joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas, and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito each wrote separate dissents. What each dissent has in common is strong criticism of the majority. In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority decision was “an act of will, not legal judgement.” And in his dissent, Justice Scalia said it represented “a threat to American democracy.”
While today’s decision is a huge step forward for LGBT rights, the fight for equality for all is not over. In many places someone could still be legally married one day, and legally fired simply for doing so all on the same day. There are still many states that do not protect LGBT individuals from discrimination at their jobs, in their homes and schools, or at their doctor’s offices. We must build on today’s progress to ensure comprehensive legislation to outlaw LBGT discrimination.
BOTTOM LINE: It is another great day in America. Because of the Court’s decision, our union became a little stronger, and a little more perfect. But the fight is not over.
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