In a shocking turn of events, at least for anti-gay marriage proponents, the US Supreme Court today ruled that denying marriage to certain classes of citizens is a denial of equitable treatment laws and the US Constitution. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage laws must treat all parties equitably, though there are many other forms of marriage states can still legally deny, for now. Gay marriage legalization has removed the ban still law in 14 US states.
Gay couples rushed to get married in various states with a previous ban, such as Texas, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia. US President Obama called the ruling “a victory for America” saying that increased equality is a benefit for the nation. However, many anti-gay marriage advocates, such as the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, called it a tyrannical imposition of the federal government on the rights of states.
The Controversy’s History in America
States have historically been the ones that have set marriage policies and rules. This has allowed states to block marriages that they deem “unfit” for the last several centuries. Not only did this include gay marriage, but also marriages of siblings and those under the age of 18. However, the Supreme Court ruling turned this on its head, at least partially. In the ruling the majority judgment stated gay couples could not be discriminated against by state laws, as there was no basis for the discrimination under various equal protection federal laws, and the US Constitution.
Historically, states have been the ones to dictate marriage laws, and this in fact will not be changing by this ruling. States still have the right to discriminate certain parties, just not those based upon sexual orientation, at least for now. The minority opinion in this ruling did state that this could open the door for challenges for other prohibitions of marriage in states (such as siblings or first cousins), but so far, this has not been taken up in court as of yet.
At the Scene of the Ruling Today
Loud cheers were heard immediately following the ruling with many people breaking into a chant of “USA! USA!” upon hearing the news. There were very few anti-gay activists at the US Supreme Court this morning, being easily overwhelmed by thousands of gay rights supporters. Within minutes of the ruling couples were lining up at courthouses across most states that previously had a ban, such as Georgia and Texas. One Ohio resident at the courthouse said he had hoped soon the idea of gay marriage would be a thing of the past, and instead people would just think of this as “marriage” and equal for all. He had been dealing with the fallout of his partner who died some years ago, and he couldn’t get survivor benefits from his pension as they were not legally married.
The first US state to legalize same sex marriage was Massachusetts in 2004. After a decade of legal turmoil and states successfully banning it in their state Constitutions (which would be difficult to remove in the future), 2015 marks the end of that struggle for those supporters of marriage equality. Although it will be a challenge to drag people into the future, many same-sex marriage advocates say the move in that direction is now inevitable.