This is a developing story. We will continue to update this post.
In a highly-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court has removed all bans on same-sex marriage in the United States by a 5-4 vote. The high court ruled that existing state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and that local authorities must recognize marriages from other states.
“The Fourteenth Amendment [which gives all US citizens equal rights and protections under the law] requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State,” the majority justices wrote.
The ruling immediately strikes down gay marriage bans in 13 states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Michigan.
Prior to the decision, all eyes were on a swing vote by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who ultimately sided with the liberal members of the court who support same-sex marriage. In the courtroom today, Kennedy read from the majority opinion, which concluded:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The court’s dissenting members, including chief justice John Roberts, argued unsuccessfully that gay marriage falls outside the scope of the Constitution and is not what the country’s founding fathers intended. Roberts wrote:
If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. 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.
The ruling is effectively the last major step to legalize gay marriage in the country. It comes on the anniversary of two other crucial Supreme Court decisions: In 2013, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage; and ruling that state laws banning inter-racial marriage were unconstitutional, in 1967.