Truly an historic day.
A 5-4 decision, with the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy. Chief Justice Roberts joined the dissenters (Scalia, Alito, Thomas).
Holding: Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Sixth Circuit is reversed.
Here’s the opinion. Excerpt:
The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.
This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. …
The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs. … Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect. History and tradition guide and discipline the inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.
Justice Kennedy concludes:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
More. OK, enough celebrating. Let the political acrimony begin. From The Hill
That partisan divide could complicate the calculus for Republicans ahead of the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic front-runner, has already incorporated the issue into her campaign, which she launched with a video that included a brief appearance by a same-sex couple.
But every GOP candidate has spoken out against granting a national right to same-sex marriage, so all eyes will be on how the party reconciles that stance with the court decision.
The party and its presidential contenders will have to decide whether to punt on the issue and remove it from the electoral conversation, or to dig in and fight back with a proposal for a constitutional amendment to overrule the court, as Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) have supported.
By November 2016, a GOP nominee who campaigns in favor of voiding hundreds of thousands of legal marriages and leaving the children of these unions with far fewer family protections is going to seem very extreme, I suspect.
Furthermore. Andrew Sullivan: It Is Accomplished. He recalls:
Much of the gay left was deeply suspicious of this conservative-sounding reform; two thirds of the country were opposed; the religious right saw in the issue a unique opportunity for political leverage – and over time, they put state constitutional amendments against marriage equality on the ballot in countless states, and won every time. Our allies deserted us. The Clintons embraced the Defense of Marriage Act, and their Justice Department declared that DOMA was in no way unconstitutional the morning some of us were testifying against it on Capitol Hill. For his part, president George W. Bush subsequently went even further and embraced the Federal Marriage Amendment to permanently ensure second-class citizenship for gay people in America. Those were dark, dark days.
He concludes, “Know hope.”
And this. The front page of the New York Times for Saturday, June 27.