Supreme Court Recognizes a Constitutional Right to Gay Marriage

"The right of same-sex couples to marry...is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment."


Credit: C-SPAN

In a 5-4 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "the right of same-sex couples to marry…is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Writing for the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that state bans on same-sex marriage must be struck down because they violate the fundamental principles of liberty and equality secured by the Constitution. Kennedy writes:

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.

Kennedy's opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito each filed a dissent.

The Supreme Court's opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges is available here. Stay tuned to Reason.com for much more news and analysis throughout the day.