The US Supreme Court has ruled that US citizens have a legal right to marry people of the same gender. The decision, which comes just a month after Ireland introduced same-sex marriage through a referendum, is valid across all 50 states, meaning that marriage has now been legalised for same-sex couples on a nationwide basis.
The majority of US states have already legalised same-sex marriage of their own accord. However, 14 states continued to disallow the marriage of gay couples. However, the Supreme Court decision means that those 14 states will no longer be able to enforce such a ban, though it has not yet been made clear how soon marriage licenses for same sex couples will start to be issued in these states.
The Supreme Court made the ruling in relation to the case of Ohio resident Jim Obergefell, who had previously not been legally recognised as his deceased husband’s widower. Speaking outside the court after the ruling, Obergefell told the press: “It’s my hope that gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, and from this day forward it will simply be ‘marriage.’”
According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the plaintiffs in this case were simply asking “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” and this is their right under the US constitution. US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling was a “victory for America.”
“When all Americans are treated as equal,” Obama continued, “we are all more free.”
The ruling has put an end to legal battles that have been raging in the US for a number of years on both state and national levels. One eccentric California lawyer even went so far as to propose a bill that would allow homosexuals to be “put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method,” though naturally this bill did not get far.
The ruling’s announcement prompted loud cheering in the streets outside the court, where hundreds had been gathered to await the news. In Georgia, one of the states that had previously banned the same-sex marriage, couples began lining up to begin exercising their newfound rights within minutes. Social media, too, was abuzz with celebration and general discussion, with the hashtags #MarriageEquality and #LoveWins trending on Facebook and Twitter respectively.
Those who had opposed the legalisation of same sex marriage, particularly America’s conservative Christian groups, were disappointed by the court’s ruling. Presidential candidate for the Republican Party, former governor of Arkansas, and outspoken opponent of gay marriage Mike Huckabee said: “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”