Supreme Court Rules Gay Marriages Are Legal Across All 50 States – Same-Sex Couples Rejoice

Alap Naik Desai

Notwithstanding pressure tactics from religious groups, the Supreme Court of the United States has delivered a landmark decision of according legal status and rights to same-sex marriages. Gays and lesbians across the country now have the right to get married and will have to be treated equally.

The Supreme Court today delivered a historic victory for gay rights. In a five to four ruling, the apex court in a way amended the Constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry irrespective of the state where they reside. In other words, states may no longer reserve the right to get married only for heterosexual couples.

The court's decision is the culmination of over two decades of litigation and social stigma over gay marriage and gay rights in general. Though gay and lesbian couples could already marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia, this decision accords the rights to same-sex couples across the United States. In short, the 14 remaining states that had enforced a strict ban on same-sex marriage will no longer be allowed to criminalize the matrimony.

Needless to say, gay right activists and same-sex couples cheered, danced, and wept tears of joy right outside the court. Why wouldn't they, especially when their social status has been uplifted by redefining the nation's social norms.

While noting the decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "No union is more profound than marriage. The stories of the people asking for the right to marry reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses' memory, joined by its bond."

The four Supreme Court judges who didn't concur filed their opinions individually, but all jointly agreed that the legality of the gay marriages should have been left in the hands of states and their voters.

Voicing his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. If you are among the many Americans - of whatever sexual orientation - who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

This is undoubtedly also a victory for President Obama, who had personally declared in May 2012 that gay marriages should be allowed.

A lot of fundamental changes have happened within the last two years. The Supreme Court even struck down several anti-gay marriage laws that sought to deny a plethora of government benefits even to legally married same-sex couples. Interestingly, as recent as last October a little over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages, and today the Supreme Court has expanded the same to the whole nation.

[Image Credit | Justin Sullivan, Mladen Antonov /Getty Images]