“Victory of Love”: US Supreme Court declares Gay Marriage legal
On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that the US Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. The case considered concerned Jim Obergefell, an Ohio resident who was not recognised as the legal widower of his late husband, John Arthur.
With the historic ruling in Obergefell v Hodges the justices held the right to marriage equality is protected under constitution and the decision has been hailed as ‘victory of love’.
As a result, same-sex marriages are now legal across the entirety of the United States after attempts by conservative states to ban them unconstitutional.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stated for the majority in the decision. “No 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 once they were.”
In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage. “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favour expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate 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.”
But Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” and the plaintiffs asked “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
It means the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage will no longer be able to enforce them. Those states affected are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
In England & Wales the first same sex weddings took place on 29 March 2014 following a change to the family law. Scotland passed a similar law in that February. Prior to this couples had the option to enter into a civil partnership and now can choose to convert their relationship to marriage but there is no obligation to do so.
From an English family law perspective, the basis of a civil partnership is that it offers a legal treatment as marriage across a range of family law matters including inheritance, pension provision, life assurance, child maintenance, financial provision generally, next of kin and immigration rights.
And for now in the US Mr Obergefell said outside the Supreme Court:
“It’s my hope that gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, and from this day forward it will simply be ‘marriage’”.
For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: