Gay marriage made legal across US
NZ Herald 27 June 2015
Gay and lesbian Americans have the same right to marry as any other couples, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Friday in a historic ruling deciding one of America’s most contentious and emotional legal questions. Celebrations and joyful weddings quickly followed states where they had been forbidden.
The vote was narrow – 5-4 – but the ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in America’s social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.
Public acceptance has also shot up in recent years, in stark contrast to the widespread outcry against a 2004 ruling by the high court in Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage there, prompting several states to ban it and galvanizing conservative voter turnout during George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.
Just over a decade later, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion was clear and firm: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”
Kennedy’s reading of the ruling elicited tears in the courtroom, euphoria outside and the immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in county offices in Georgia and Texas. In Dallas, Kenneth Denson said he and Gabriel Mendez had been legally married in 2013 in California but “we’re Texans; we want to get married in Texas.”
In praise of the decision, President Barack Obama called it “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”