The United States Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that marriage is a fundamental human right, and that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause requires states to confer civil marriage to same-sex couples, and that states must recognize same-sex marriages conferred by other states.
In its majority opinion, the court said that, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. . . . [The petitioners’] hope 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.” With regard to interstate recognition, which was perhaps the simplest question before the court (due to the ‘full faith and credit’ clause), the court sidestepped the issue entirely and stated that the establishment of a national right to same-sex marriage removed any lawful basis for refusal to recognize such marriages conferred by other states.
In Chief Justice John Roberts’s dissent, he argues that the Supreme Court has overstepped its authority by legislating from the bench. This is a curious argument, as Roberts only yesterday released a majority opinion in which he rewrote a portion of the Affordable Care Act.
The majority opinion was issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen. The other four justices issued several overlapping dissents: one issued by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; one issued by Justice Scalia and joined by Justice Thomas; one issued by Justice Thomas and joined by Justice Scalia; and finally one issued by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas.