On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court announced its landmark ruling to officially legalize same-sex marriage across all 50 states. The decision to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples is a long-waited victory for gay rights activists in the US. For millions of LGBT Americans, activists, and citizens at large, this day will be forever memorialized in the history of humankind.
The court’s four liberal justices were joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, long considered the swing vote on same-sex marriage, to deny all the states the right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Justice Kennedy, declared that same-sex couples should have the fundamental right to marry.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote in the majority’s opinion. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
He went on to say that the plea filed by the same-sex couple plaintiffs showed that they respected marriage to the extent that they hoped to enjoy the fulfillment that comes with marriage. It also reflected their simple wish to be included in one of the oldest institutions of human civilization.
For those who live through the birth and struggle of the gay rights movement, the decision today not only fulfills a lifelong dream of marrying their partners, but it also paves the way for a more equal future for younger LGBT individuals. Many consider today’s ruling as evidence that the United States still considers equality as a significant founding principle.
In a press conference held shortly after the decision was announced, US President Barack Obama said the decision “arrived like a thunderbolt.” By achieving marriage equality, the court also reaffirms the fundamental belief of all people should be treated equally, said the president. He revisited a phrase made during his second inauguration: “if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” He said it is gratifying to see the principle “enshrined into law” by the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The new law makes the United States the 21st country in the world to legalize marriage equality. By doing so, it also indirectly abolishes all existing bans on same-sex marriage in the various states. Same-sex couples are now entitled to receive marriage license across the country, regardless where they reside.
(Feature photo of the crowd that gathered by the Supreme Court when the decision was handed down, by Chieh-Ting Yeh)