By: Danielle Apfel
This past Friday, the Supreme Court put an end to the debate surrounding same-sex marriages across the nation. In a landmark 5-4 decision, the Court established that all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to marry, invalidating any prior bans on the matter.
In a slow, but steady, progression from marital privacy rights, to birth control rights, and to the decriminalization of sodomy, the right to same-sex marriages has been on its path to fruition. Despite the rulings in the 2013 DOMA and Prop 8 cases, as well as in United States v. Windsor, in which the Court allowed the states to have the final say in whether or not they would issue same-sex marriage licenses, the issue was far from resolved. Although same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses in some states, such unions were not recognized throughout the country, as 13 states refused to lift their bans on recognizing such marriages.
The case that changed everything last week, Obergefell v. Hodges, was seeking the federal right and recognition of same-sex marriages. As the Court favored Obergefell in this case, which also represented other same-sex couples in pursuit of the same goal, the right to same-sex marriages became the “law of the land” this weekend.
While fighting for such rights, the proponents of marriage equality looked to establish marriage as a fundamental right for all Americans. The Court agreed; the right to marriage, whether between same or opposite sex unions, became a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment. This Amendment, particularly important after the Civil War, holds the Equal Protection Clause, which is vital to providing equal protection of federal rights throughout the states. Now, the right for same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses across the nation is protected by the Constitution, and is no longer subject to the various interpretations by individual states.
The majority decision featured Justice Kennedy’s moving words, and was joined by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer, while Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas issued three separate dissents.
Following the decisions, the people took to the streets in support of the decision. Multiple Pride Parades have occurred, not only throughout the country, but around the world as well. Many government leaders and officials, including President Obama, have shown their support of the decision, while others still remain steadfast in their opinions against legalizing same-sex marriages. While a majority of Americans now favor the right to same-sex marriages, around 60+ percent, many GOP leaders are not only against the concept as a whole, but do not wish to even recognize the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. There is no telling how they will continue to act, especially in light of the upcoming presidential election season, but it is evident that the decision this past week has not smoothed over the issue completely.
Regardless of the pushbacks by right-winged conservatives, the right for all same-sex couples to marry is now legal in all 50 states. This weekend was an incredible victory for the nation as a whole, and as President Obama said, “we have made our union a little more perfect.”