The Supreme Court of the United States this morning announced its ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. In a decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the opinion of the court is that “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Justices Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito dissented, each filing his own dissenting opinion.
Writes Kennedy for the court:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
In his dissenting opinion, Roberts writes:
If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.
I respectfully dissent.
In his dissenting opinion, Scalia writes to “call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy” and attacked what was in his view the “hubris” of the court. He also invokes the U.S. Constitution:
This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
In his dissenting opinion, Thomas drew a few bizarre comparisons:
Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.
The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Thomas also took issue with the court’s use of the word “dignity”:
Our Constitution — like the Declaration of Independence before it — was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from — not provided by — the State. Today’s decision casts that truth aside.
The ruling effectively strikes down the ban on same-sex marriage in the fourteen states where it existed.
Here’s the full text of the ruling:
President Barack Obama calls it a “big step”:
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
Governor Andrew Cuomo says, “New York is proud to have been a leader”:
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 26, 2015
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio quoted Kennedy’s decision (and changed his avatar):
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 26, 2015
De Blasio also released a statement crediting the Stonewall Riots for kick-starting the LGBT movement back in 1969:
“America will never forget this day, and neither will people all across the world who know the meaning of love and compassion. June 26, 2015, will forever be memorialized as a pivotal moment in the history of our nation – the day the Supreme Court affirmed our core values of love, equality, and justice, rejected ignorance and malice, and appealed to the humanity in us all. Our country will finally afford millions of Americans the rights they have always deserved, but until now were unable to exercise. Today, this country is richer – filled with more equality, more acceptance, and more love than yesterday. And for the people of this city, where the movement for LGBT rights began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, we can be proud that we helped blaze the trail to this great victory.”
Lea DeLaria says, “Fuck yeah Supreme Court!”:
— Lea DeLaria (@realleadelaria) June 26, 2015
Ellen says, “Love won”:
Love won. #MarriageEquality
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) June 26, 2015
Among the opponents of same-sex marriage was Mike Huckabee, who called the court’s decision “disastrous”:
This unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 26, 2015
Hillary Clinton, who as recently as 2004 was publicly against gay marriage while a U.S. senator for New York, said this back then: “I believe that marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.”
Today someone in her camp posted, simply, “Proud”:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 26, 2015
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush released a statement that begins: “Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision.”
Finally, CNN’s Anderson Cooper says AC 360 will air live tonight from the Stonewall Inn (now a landmark because of this):
Tonight at 8pm we will broadcast #AC360 from the street where the Stonewall Uprising began 46 years ago this week
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) June 26, 2015
This weekend’s Pride march in New York is going to be more of a party than ever.