“No union is more profound than marriage,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states.
And no Supreme Court decision in recent history delivered such joy across the America.
“Justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,” proclaimed the president on June 26.
“One union!” cheerleaders for equality shouted on Capitol Hill after learning of the 5-4 opinion handed down by the court.
“Oh, say, can you see,” the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., sang outside the Supreme Court building.
“Love wins!” boomed celebrants at Pride parades June 28 in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and other U.S. cities.
“I do!” said newlywed same-sex couples in states where they can still be fired for saying “I’m gay.”
An outpouring of congratulations and affirmation spilled from Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr as smartphones lighted up with texts about the triumphant ruling.
“Was there a major company that didn’t have a rainbow logo ready to go?” Paula Sibley wondered aloud as she celebrated at St. Pete Pride June 27 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Well, yes, she acknowledged, “But who cares about them?”
Many politicians, from the nation’s Capitol to the presidential campaign trail to common council chambers, gushed praise — but not all, obviously.
President Barack Obama, before departing the White House for a funeral in Charleston, South Carolina, stepped into the Rose Garden to celebrate Decision Day. He paid tribute to the LGBT civil rights movement and the courage of each LGBT person and their families. “What an extraordinary achievement. What a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things,” the president said.
Meanwhile, others, most notably the right-wing Republicans seeking to succeed Obama in the Oval Office, attacked the Supreme Court decision as judicial activism, though dozens of other courts — state and federal — have ruled for marriage equality.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an unofficial candidate for the GOP nomination as of press time, called the decision a “grave mistake” and accused Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan of taking “it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage” in Obergefell v. Hodges.
But words from Walker and others didn’t damper Decision Day rallies held in many cities, including Milwaukee and Madison, or mute the euphoric Pride celebrations held June 28 to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
“They can go back under their rocks,” said Chicago Pride celebrant Ray Naifen. “What happened June 26 means there is no more ‘same-sex marriage,’ there is only marriage.”
Tussles continue over marriage licenses in some places, but the court declared there is no legal or moral justification for standing in the path of marriage equality. In the history books, June 26, 2015, will be the date gay marriage was declared legal across the United States.
“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry,” Kennedy wrote.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” he said in the decision.
Obergefell was a consolidation of disputes over marriage bans in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan but also impacted bans in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas.
The lead plaintiff, James Obergefell, dedicated the ruling that “our love is equal” to his late husband, John Arthur.
Obergefell and Arthur sued the state of Ohio two years ago, seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage. There was urgency to their plea — John Arthur was ill and he died three months after their wedding.
“The fact that the state I have long called home will finally recognize my marriage to the man I honored and cherished for more than 20 years is a profound vindication — a victory I’m proud to share with countless more couples across the country,” Obergefell said. “Today’s victory proves that anything is possible, and I could not be more hopeful about the capacity of this country to change for the better.”
By July 1, as WiG headed to press, two New Orleans men had married in Louisiana, the last state to move to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.