In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory.

In the 5-4 ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

Nearly 46 years to the day after a riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn ushered in the modern gay rights movement, the decision could settle one of the major civil rights fights of this era. The language of Kennedy’s opinion spoke eloquently of the most fundamental values of family, love and liberty.

The U.S. is now the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, including territories. Married same-sex couples will now enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples nationwide and will be recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates.

Hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters flooded the plaza and sidewalk in front of the Court to celebrate the ruling, proudly waving rainbow flags and banners with the Human Rights Campaign’s equal sign, which have come to represent the gay rights movement. In an emotional moment, the supporters sang the National Anthem, clapping wildly after singing that the U.S. is “the land of the free.”

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