US Supreme Court le­galises gay mar­riage

Na­tion­wide land­mark de­ci­sion ‘ fresh coup’ for White House

The Herald (South Africa) - - NEWS -

THE US Supreme Court made same-sex mar­riage le­gal through­out the na­tion yesterday in a much-awaited land­mark de­ci­sion that trig­gered wild ju­bi­la­tion and tears of joy.

In a 5-4 rul­ing, the high­est court in the US said the con­sti­tu­tion re­quired all 50 states to carry out and recog­nise mar­riage be­tween peo­ple of the same sex.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama praised the rul­ing as “a vic­tory for Amer­ica”.

The court de­ci­sion marked a fresh coup for the White House, com­ing a day af­ter the Supreme Court up­held an im­por­tant and dis­puted sec­tion of the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture health care re­form.

“This de­ci­sion af­firms what mil­lions of Amer­i­cans al­ready be­lieve in their hearts – when all Amer­i­cans are treated as equal, we are all more free,” Obama said at the White House, which changed its Twit­ter avatar to the rain­bow colours of the grow­ing gay rights move­ment. It also made the US the 21st coun­try or ter­ri­tory in the world that recog­nises same-sex mar­riage as le­gal.

Flag-wav­ing LGBT rights ad­vo­cates on the packed Supreme Court fore­court – some in tears – cheered, danced and sang The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner in cel­e­bra­tion.

Prom­i­nent in the crowd was Jim Oberge­fell, the lead plain­tiff in the case, clutch­ing a photo of his de­ceased hus­band, John Arthur.

He took a brief phone call from Obama, who told him: “Not only have you been a great ex­am­ple for peo­ple, but you’re also go­ing to bring about a last­ing change in this coun­try.”

Also in the vast crowd out­side court were Robert Westover, 51, and Tom Ful­ton, 57.

“It feels like my birth­day, the prom, our wed­ding day. It’s hard to ex­press the in­ten- sity of this mo­ment, that our love now is equal,” Westover said.

The case was brought by 14 same-sex cou­ples, and the wid­ow­ers of two gay cou­ples, in­clud­ing Oberge­fell, who had chal­lenged de facto bans on same-sex mar­riage in Michigan, Ken­tucky, Ohio and Ten­nessee. All four states had in­sisted in their re­spec­tive con­sti­tu­tions that mar­riage could only be a union be­tween a man and a woman.

“The Four­teenth Amend­ment [pro­vid­ing equal pro­tec­tion un­der the law] re­quires a state to li­cense a mar­riage be­tween two peo­ple of the same sex and to recog­nise a mar­riage be­tween two peo­ple of the same sex when their mar­riage was law­fully li­censed and per­formed out-of-state,” the court rul­ing said.

Mar­riage has been a core in­sti­tu­tion in so­ci­ety since an­cient times, “but it has not stood in iso­la­tion from de­vel- op­ments in law and so­ci­ety,” rea­soned Jus­tice An­thony Kennedy, who de­liv­ered the rul­ing.

To ex­clude them from mar­riage, Kennedy said, would deny same-sex cou­ples “the con­stel­la­tion of ben­e­fits that the states have linked to mar­riage”.

The de­ci­sion came two years to the day af­ter the Supreme Court, in another ma­jor rul­ing, struck down a con­tro­ver­sial fed­eral law that de­nied US gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits to wed­ded gays and les­bians. – AFP

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