The nation’s highest court ruled 5-4 today that marriage “fundamental” and that right applies to same-sex couples, striking down laws in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee that define marriage as between “one man and one woman.”
The court found those laws violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. In handing down the ruling, Justice Kennedy wrote “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus con- flicts with a central premise of the right to marry. With- out the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the signifi- cant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
President Obama called the ruling “a victory for America.”
“This ruling is…a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights,” said Obama about an hour after the ruling was released. “It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other.”
Watch entire video of Obama’s comments here.
Transcript of President Obama’s remarks
Good morning. Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times — a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American.
Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.
This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.
This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move [to] or even visit another. This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.
This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case. It’s a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights. It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other. It’s a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come.
And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free.
My administration has been guided by that idea. It’s why we stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and why we were pleased when the Court finally struck down a central provision of that discriminatory law. It’s why we ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” From extending full marital benefits to federal employees and their spouses, to expanding hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, we’ve made real progress in advancing equality for LGBT Americans in ways that were unimaginable not too long ago.
I know change for many of our LGBT brothers and sisters must have seemed so slow for so long. But compared to so many other issues, America’s shift has been so quick. I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.
But today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible. And those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them. Because for all our differences, we are one people, stronger together than we could ever be alone. That’s always been our story.
We are big and vast and diverse; a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories, but bound by our shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.
We are a people who believe that every single child is entitled to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There’s so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.
That’s the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court, but, more importantly, it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents — parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.
What an extraordinary achievement. What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. What a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake, and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.
Those countless, often anonymous heroes — they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud.
Thank you. (Applause.)
In 2012 Minnesota became the first state where voters rejected a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. A few months later the state voted to make same sex marriage legal. State Senator Scott Dibble and State Representative Karen Clark (DFL – Minneapolis) were the lead authors on that legislation and release this statement today:
“This is a moment for tremendous celebration all across the country. Today the Supreme Court recognized that marriage is about love and family, and that every marriage is equal.
“We’ve made great strides in recent years since Minnesota became the first state where voters rejected a constitutional amendment to bar marriages in 2012, and then the 12th state to recognize all marriages in 2013. Residents in 37 states now enjoy the freedom to marry, and this decision opens up that right to families in the entire country. Social recognition and access to literally thousands of rights, benefits and guarantees means that families will be more secure, and our communities will be stronger for that.
“We are so proud of the work of hard working people – activists, our families, our allies — all across the country as they persevered these many years for the rights of all Americans. We’ve taken one more huge step on that long journey towards freedom in our country. Today, once again, love prevails!”
U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota)
“This is a truly historic day for equality,” said Sen. Franken. “Today, I join millions of Americans in celebrating a Supreme Court decision finally recognizing what many of us have long known: that the unions formed by gay and lesbian couples are deserving of the same dignity and respect afforded to other couples under the law. Being married to Franni for 39 years is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I believe that every loving couple should have the same opportunities that we have enjoyed. I was especially proud when Minnesota embraced marriage equality in 2012, and I’m pleased to see that as a country we’ve made incredible progress in this area. Now that marriage equality is a reality, it’s long past time that Congress finish the job and pass comprehensive civil rights protections for LGBT Americans.”
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
“What a great day for America!” said Governor Mark Dayton. “This decision is a huge step forward, toward equal rights and guarantees for all citizens under our Constitution.”
Minnesota House DFL Leader Paul Thissen
“I applaud the Supreme Court for following our lead in Minnesota and ensuring every American can marry the person they love.
“In Minnesota, we’ve been leading the way in this fight as the first state to reject a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and the first state in the Midwest to then legislate marriage equality. Minnesotans helped build a nationwide movement for marriage equality and equal rights that has culminated in today’s victory for all Americans.
“Minnesotans stood on the right side of history and then helped shape it for the better. I congratulate everyone who worked to make this day a reality and I join you in celebrating this moment of progress for our nation’s future.”