Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution, through the 14th Amendment, guarantees the right of same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the United States. The decision was met with near-universal acclaim among supporters of gay marriage, striking down various bans on the state level. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision, and the ruling has been compared to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that transformed the Civil Rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s.
Justices Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan supported Justice Kennedy’s decision, and Breyer, with Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissenting. In his opinion, Justice Kennedy called marriage the “keystone of our social order” and declared, “no longer may this liberty be denied” to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
The decision was hailed as a victory for LBGT activists, who have fought for marriage equality on a state-by-state basis, since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003. Before the Supreme Court ruling, there were only 13 states, most of them in the South, where the practice remained illegal. Despite the support of a majority of Americans, the ruling caused controversy among religious conservatives in America.