Last year the Supreme Court decided to bring marriage equality a step further for America when in a 5-4 decision it ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to marriage for same-sex couples. In Obergefell v. Hodges the Court decided that, the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to provide a marriage license for two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion wrote, “[n]o union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”
The concept of marriage is one that has become a bedrock of modern human interaction and connection. The decision to get married signals to the community that the love, devotion and admiration between two people is so strong that it deserves to be celebrated and documented for all to praise. And now, that moment of celebration can come for any two people, regardless of sexual orientation.
The dissenting Justices opined that the majority decision was one of public sentiment more so than Constitutional interpretation. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “[c]elebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.” Although this opinion is harsh in its evaluation of what the majority outcome was in this case, it is accurate in saying that this decision does warrant celebration. Not just celebration in the decision to allow same-sex marriage, but celebration in the victory for respect, dignity and equality, which is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
Ultimately, this decision grants married same-sex couples with the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples across the country. No longer will same-sex couples be divided out, ostracized and looked at as second-class citizens. They are now on the same legal level as any and all other couples that decide to tie the knot in matrimony.
And seemingly, that was all those that fought for marriage equality wanted. The marriage license itself may just be a piece of paper, but it is all the legal rights, benefits and protections granted a couple who have a valid marriage license that is essential. It is to tell the community that as a same-sex couple they are equal under the U.S. Constitution to their heterosexual counterparts. Under the law, a same-sex couple has the same legal protections as a heterosexual couple.
The U.S. became the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
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