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The Supreme Court has Legalized Gay Marriage Nationwide
The Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage nationwide by ruling that the U.S. Constitution bars states from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The landmark, 5-4 decision split the court along the usual ideological lines, with Republican appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the court’s liberal wing to back same-sex marriage rights and the court’s remaining GOP appointees dissenting.
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The majority opinion, authored by Kennedy, was framed as a legal interpretation of the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. However, the decision appeared to reflect and ratify one of the most dramatic and rapid shifts in public opinion on a high-profile social issue in American history.
Kennedy bluntly rejected arguments from same-sex marriage opponents that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would undermine and disrespect the marriages of heterosexual couples.
“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,“ Kennedy wrote. “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.”
In a rare occurrence, all four justices who disagreed with the majority authored dissents.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the court’s ruling unwisely short-circuited the democratic process.
“Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples,” the chief justice said. “It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.”