US Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide

The US Supreme Court ruled on Friday that same-sex marriage is now a legal right across the United States.

They declared that refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples will violate the Constitution.

In a historic 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires all states to license same-sax marriages in the US. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion

Before the ruling on Thursday, gay couples could marry in 37 states in addition to Washington DC.

It is unclear yet how soon marriage licences will be issued in states where gay unions had previously been prohibited.

NBC news reports:

Kennedy went on to speak directly to the type of criticism that often comes from conservatives in pushing back against marriage equality.

“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,” Kennedy said. “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.”

A total of 36 states now permit gay couples to get married, covering roughly 70 percent of the US population. Today’s ruling means the bans must end in the other 14 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

The decision capped a remarkably quick turnaround in public and judicial acceptance of same-sex marraige. In the past 18 months, court rulings struck down marriage bans in rapid succession — nearly 60 separate decisions in more than half the states.

Today’s ruling overturned a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which said states had legitimate reasons for maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. The appeals court also said it would be better “to allow change through the customary political processes” instead of the courts.