The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states on Friday, June 26, exactly two years after the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage, called Prop 8.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the 5-4 ruling and was joined by the court’s four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices dissented and wrote their own opinions.
“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote.
The stories of the people asking for the right to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond,” Kennedy said.
The four dissenting judges each agreed that states and their voters should have been able to decide who can marry.
“This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.
Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.