Before today, gay and lesbian couples could legally marry in 36 states and Washington, DC. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has extended that right across the country. The ruling means the remaining 14 states must soon stop enforcing bans on same-sex marriage.
Five of the Supreme Court justices support the decision. Four oppose it.
The majority ruling says denying same-sex couples the right to marry hurts them. It shows disrespect and gives them a lower place in society than opposite sex couples, the five supporting justices say.
They add that the Constitution requires state laws to provide equal protection to everyone who lives there.
The four justices who oppose the decision include the chief justice, John Roberts. Mr. Roberts disagrees so strongly that he read his remarks out loud.
He says that all Americans who support expanding same-sex marriage should celebrate Friday’s decision. The ruling, he notes, offers benefits to more people and permits same-sex partners to show their love and commitment.
But, Mr. Roberts says, Americans should not celebrate the decision as a victory for the U.S. Constitution.
Mr. Roberts believes “five lawyers” on the Supreme Court do not have the right to decide to permit same-sex marriage in all states. Instead, he says the people should decide the issue in a democratic process.
The court of public opinion
In Washington, DC many are quickly answering the decision. Tony Perkins is the president of the DC-based Family Research Council. The organization seeks to protect the idea of marriage between a man and a woman. Mr. Perkins wrote on the social media site Twitter that the ruling is a “shocking abuse of power, and will never be accepted.”
President Barack Obama also shared his thoughts on Twitter. He welcomes the ruling, calling it “a big step forward in our march toward equality.”
For many activists, Friday’s decision is the final achievement of more than 20 years of gay rights-related court cases. Outside the Supreme Court building, hundreds gathered to celebrate. They chanted “love has won” and sang the U.S. national anthem.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
This story includes reports from VOA News and the Associate Press. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it into Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
chanted – n. said a word or phrase many times in a rhythmic way, usually loudly and with other people
achievement – n. something that has been done or achieved through effort; a result of hard work
Do you support the right of same-sex couples to marry? Does your country have laws related to marriage? Write your thoughts in the comments section.