In a closely divided decision, the Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples have the constitutional right to marry and struck down the bans in the few remaining states that prohibited same sex unions. Same sex couples will now be allowed to immediately marry in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan, the four states named in the case, with the remaining states following shortly thereafter.
In its decision, the Court ruled that preventing same sex couples from marrying violated their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The Court recognized that countless married same sex couples already exist in this country, and that they and their children are being treated differently when they move to a state that does not recognize their marriage. The court rejected the argument that it was in the interest of children to only allow opposite sex couples to marry and found no compelling reason to withhold that right from same sex couples.
The Court’s decision should come as little surprise, as a majority of Americans already support equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry, and there is ever greater acceptance of the LGBT community in this country. Nonetheless, this should be seen not only as an historic victory for gay and lesbian rights in America, but for equal rights for all Americans, and reflects the best values that our country has to offer.
Besides the historic significance of this decision, the impact it has will be to guarantee that the law is applied equally and consistently to individuals with respect to same sex marriage. It will help provide greater legal entitlements to all the rights afforded to married couples, no matter where they reside.