US Supreme Court legalises gay marriage
Nationwide landmark decision ‘ fresh coup’ for White House
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