It may have come on a split decision, but for the activists and advocates who have poured decades of their time and money into the fight to see their human rights recognized, it couldn’t have been sweeter.
On Friday morning the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic ruling declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right enshrined in the constitution and guaranteed in all fifty states.
The divided ruling, which passed by a vote of five to four, came on a case brought by couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. As recently as last fall the court refused to hear appeals of lower court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage, and the number of states in which it was legal had expanded to 36 before this ruling. It now stands at an even fifty.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, which included justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer.
The Obama administration had urged the court to find with the plaintiffs, and the ruling will be seen as a big victory for the president’s legacy.
What comes next is harder to answer. The ruling is expected to end much of the legal and legislative wrangling over same-sex marriage which has paralyzed the United States in recent years, but that doesn’t make it any safer for a same-sex couple to walk down the street in parts of the country where hatred lingers.
For now human rights activists are celebrating a decisive victory, one which would have seemed inconceivable only a few years ago.
Here in Canada, same-sex marriage has been legal for a decade, and so far we still have both babies and nuclear families. We also have the tourism and international esteem which comes with not denying human rights to same-sex couples.
Welcome to the club. It’s absolutely fabulous.