New York state has allowed same-sex marriages since 2011.
The court made the decision following petitioners filing challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Fourteen couples and two widowers challenged the bans.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, the judge who wrote the court’s majority opinion. “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.”
Empire State Pride Agenda’s executive director, Nathan Schaefer, has released the following statement regarding the matter:
“The Supreme Court today affirms what so many of us have long known in our hearts and practiced in our lives: love makes a family. From today forward, the full legal rights, and recognition, enshrined in the institution of marriage are available all across America, to every family forged in the love between consenting adults, regardless of their sexual orientation, or gender.”
In addition, “I know change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed so slow, for so long,” President Barack Obama said in a statement from the White House. “America should be very proud.”
Kennedy also wrote the following:
“The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”
“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.”
“Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.”
Visit http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf to read Kennedy’s full opinion, as well as the dissenting opinions of each of the four opposed judges.