US Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage nationwide

By Ayoola Mudasiru June 26, 2015 17:10

US Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage nationwide

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions.

The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states.

The justices ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is linked to three other cases.

Together, they involve a dozen couples who challenged same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee – the only States whose bans on marriage between gay and lesbian couples had been sustained by a federal appeals court.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said that the hope of gay people intending to marry “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, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court’s four liberal justices.

In a dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia says the court’s decision shows it is a “threat to American democracy.”

The ruling “says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court,” Scalia said.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts also read a summary of his dissenting opinion from the bench.

There are currently 13 state bans in place, while another state, Alabama, has contested a court ruling that lifted the ban there.

The ruling is the Supreme Court’s most important expansion of marriage rights in the United States since its landmark 1967 ruling in the case Loving v. Virginia that struck down state laws barring interracial marriages.

President Barack Obama is the first sitting President to back gay marriage and his administration argued on the side of the same-sex marriage advocates. He has said he hoped the court issued a ruling preventing states from banning gay marriage.

In 2010, Obama signed a law allowing gays to serve openly in the U.S. military bringing an end to the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the army.

In 2013, the high court ruled unconstitutional a 1996 U.S. law that declared for the purposes of federal benefits marriage was defined as between one man and one woman.

Reacting to the ruling, President Obama tweeted,

He later said in a statement that the ruling showed America was a country where “anyone could fulfill their destiny,” before adding that the nation should be “very proud” as this ruling was a victory for America.

The legal repercussions for same-sex couples are broad, affecting not just their right to marry but also their right to be recognized as a spouse or parent on birth and death certificates and other legal papers.

Gay marriage also is gaining acceptance in other Western countries. Last month in Ireland, voters backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum that marked a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Ireland followed several Western European countries including Britain, France and Spain in allowing gay marriage, which is also legal in South Africa, Brazil and Canada.

Homosexuality still remains a taboo and is often illegal in many parts of Africa and Asia. About 33 African countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Zimbabwe and Senegal, have active anti-homosexuality laws, while 25 Asian countries, including Malaysia and India, have anti-homosexuality laws.