Supreme Court gives same-sex couples right to marry in all 50 states

Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states.

Marriage equality was already the law 36 states, including Minnesota, as well as the District of Columbia. The high court's ruling means the other 14 states can no longer enforce bans on same-sex marriage.

'Equal dignity'

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing the majority opinion:

"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."

VIDEO - News delivered by interns making mad dash

14th Amendment right

The 5-4 opinion determined "the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person," and is protected by the 14th Amendment.

"It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality," the opinion said. "Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry."

Religious freedom

The court's ruling states that "religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned."

Dissenting opinions

Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito filed dissenting opinions.

"If you are among the many Americans, of whatever sexual orientation, who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision," Chief Justice Roberts wrote. "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."

What they're saying

"What a great day for America! This decision is a huge step forward, toward equal rights and guarantees for all citizens under our Constitution." - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton

"Just two years ago, rainbow flags flew over Saint Paul's Wabasha Street Bridge, spanning the mighty Mississippi River. Marriage equality had become law in our state. It required decades of fearlessness, hard work and faith on the part of millions of individuals across our state to reach that milestone. Today's ruling by the High Court means love is now the law across our nation – and I have never been more convinced that we are at our best as a city, state and nation than when we reach for and achieve equality." - St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

"This is a moment for tremendous celebration all across the country. Today the Supreme Court recognized that marriage is about love and family, and that every marriage is equal." - State Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis)

"This is a momentous day in our country's pursuit of equality and justice. The Supreme Court has affirmed what many states, including Minnesota, have already proudly recognized: same-sex couples deserve the right to marry. We still have more work to do to advance the cause of equal treatment under the law, but today's decision is a major milestone for our country and a great victory for those who have fought tirelessly to make marriage equality a reality." - U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

"This is a truly historic day for equality. Today, I join millions of Americans in celebrating a Supreme Court decision finally recognizing what many of us have long known: that the unions formed by gay and lesbian couples are deserving of the same dignity and respect afforded to other couples under the law. - U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in – includes advertiser stories