Over­flow­ing joy as gay mar­riage le­gal­ized in US

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CHAN­TAL VALERY AND ROBERT MACPHER­SON

The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex mar­riage le­gal through­out the na­tion Fri­day in a muchawaited land­mark de­ci­sion that trig­gered wild ju­bi­la­tion and tears of joy across the coun­try.

In a 5-4 rul­ing, the high­est court in the United States said the con­sti­tu­tion re­quires all 50 states to carry out and rec­og­nize mar­riages be­tween peo­ple of the same sex.

U.S. 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 Obama’s sig­na­ture health care re­form.

“To­day we can say in no un­cer­tain terms that we’ve made our union a lit­tle more per­fect,” Obama said at the White House, which was later lit up in the rain­bow col­ors of the gay rights move­ment.

“This de­ci­sion af­firms what mil­lions of Amer­i­cans al­ready be­lieve in their hearts — when all Amer­i­cans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

The Supreme Court rul­ing made the United States the 21st coun­try or ter­ri­tory in the world that rec­og­nizes same-sex mar­riage as le­gal.

Flag-wav­ing LGBT ad­vo­cates on the packed Supreme Court fore­court — some in tears — cheered, danced, shouted “USA! USA!” 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.

“And it’s pretty rare where that hap­pens, so I couldn’t be prouder of you and your hus­band. God bless you.”

Oberge­fell, who was live on tele­vi­sion at the time, replied humbly: “Thank you, sir. That means an in­cred­i­ble amount to me.”

Also in the vast crowd out­side court as the life-chang­ing news fil­tered through were Robert Westover, 51, and Tom Ful­ton, 57, who hugged and kissed.

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

The de­ci­sion was ap­plauded across the coun­try, with Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties such as Katy Perry and Ben Af­fleck of­fer­ing praise, while in New York revel­ers waved rain­bow flags and gath­ered at a famed gay bar to celebrate.

‘Do not celebrate the con­sti­tu­tion’

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 rec­og­nize 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 de­vel­op­ments in law and so­ci­ety,” rea­soned As­so­ciate 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.”

Voic­ing dis­sent was Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who ex­pressed con­cern that the court was mak­ing a de­ci­sion bet­ter left to elected state leg­is­la­tures.

“If you are among the many Amer­i­cans — of what­ever sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion — who fa­vor ex­pand­ing same-sex mar­riage, by all means celebrate to­day’s de­ci­sion,” he said.

“Celebrate the achieve­ment of a de­sired goal. Celebrate the op­por­tu­nity for a new ex­pres­sion of com- mit­ment to a part­ner. Celebrate the avail­abil­ity of new ben­e­fits.

“But do not celebrate the con­sti­tu­tion. It had noth­ing to do with it.”

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

‘A tragic er­ror’

While some praised the rul­ing, oth­ers were ea­ger to voice dis­ap­proval.

The con­ser­va­tive Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil ex­pressed out­rage, say­ing “no court can over­turn nat­u­ral law.”

“Na­ture and na­ture’s God, hailed by the sign­ers of our Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence as the very source of law, can­not be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court,” it said.

Texas

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton, whose state has also pro­hib­ited same-sex mar­riage, said the fight go­ing for­ward was now one of “re­li­gious lib­erty.”

“No court, no law, no rule and no words will change the sim­ple truth that mar­riage is the union of one man and one woman,” he said in a state­ment.

The U.S. Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops, which cham­pi­ons the Vat­i­can’s op­po­si­tion to mar­riage equal­ity, called Fri­day’s out­come “a tragic er­ror.”

(Left) Pamela Ashby, left and Cathy Ashby share a kiss af­ter be­ing the first same-sex cou­ple to wed at Jack­son County Clerk’s of­fice in Jack­son, Michigan on Fri­day, June 26. The cou­ple has been to­gether for 26 years. (Right) Barry Beal, left, 71, and Del Bryan, 74, take their wed­ding vows af­ter be­ing to­gether for 40 years at the Jack­son County Clerk’s of­fice in Jack­son, Michigan on Fri­day.

AP

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