26th June 2015, 3:05 PM by Nick Duffy [69 reader comments]
The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right – paving the way for weddings in all 50 states.
The highest court in the US made a surprise early decision today on same-sex marriage, after hearing ‘mega-case’ Obergefell v. Hodges.
A ruling had not been expected until Monday from the nine Supreme Court justices, who are attempting to resolve a ‘split’ in lower courts on the issue – and as such could decide on the issue once and for all for the entire country.
The victory of equality came by a vote of 5-4, as the justices ruled both that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and that states are required to recognise marriages from elsewhere.
Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinion, and was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in finding in favour of equality – while the court’s Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas authoring a dissenting ruling.
Ahead of the ruling, Lambda Legal, which has spearheaded litigation on same-sex marriage, has created an info-graphic explaining the three possible outcomes of the case.
As the justices ruled in the affirmative to both questions, all states must now recognise same-sex marriage, and the 14 remaining state bans on marriage equality are set to be found unconstitutional.
Marriages are expected to begin in every corner of the US in the coming days and weeks, as the ruling filters down to the state level.
Couples in hold-out states including Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and Florida are already planning to marry.
The landmark ruling comes on the heels of a similar case in Mexico, where the Mexican Supreme Court also ruled in favour of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Last month, the Republic of Ireland became the first country to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote.