Supreme Court declares gay marriage legal in U.S.

Published 9:39 am Friday, June 26, 2015

According to multiple media reports, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that same-sex marriage is now national law.

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday morning that any state bans against gay marriage are unconstitutional.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor made up the majority decision. Conservative justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

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The decision reversed the Cincinnati-based Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had ruled that states have a right to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Friday’s decision was for the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which 14 same-sex couples and two gay men whose partners are deceased, filed suits in federal district courts in their home states of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Those suits claimed that their states, which all define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, violate the 14th Amendment by denying them the right to marry.

The district courts ruled in the petitioners favor, but the Sixth Circuit reversed those court decisions, leading to the appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“These considerations lead to the conclusion that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty,” Kennedy wrote, in the majority opinion. “The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”

Each of the four dissenting justices wrote an individual opinion.

“Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not,” Roberts wrote. “The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued a statement, saying that the state would follow “the law of the land.”

“Today the United States Supreme Court overturned centuries of tradition and the will of the citizens of a majority of the States in declaring that Alabama and the rest of the nation must legally recognize same-sex marriage ,” Strange said. “While I do not agree with the opinion of the majority of the justices in their decision, I acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is now the law of the land. Short of the passage of a Constitutional Amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say.

“But while the states are now required to recognize same-sex marriage, I expect the focus will now turn to the exercise of one’s religious liberty. I will continue to defend the religious liberties of Alabamians and ensure that people and businesses honoring their religious beliefs are protected.”

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., who represents Escambia County and the 1st Congressional District, also expressed his concern about the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I have always believed that marriage should be defined as the union between one man and one woman,” Byrne said. “I believe today’s decision threatens what should be exclusive state jurisdiction over matters pertaining to marriage.”