#BreakingNews delivered by New York Times journalist, Adam Liptak. This long disputed debate highlights the importance of freedom of speech, no doubt the many citizen rallies helped broadcast public sentiment. Public opinion proved to be a compelling factor for the courts ruling, indicating that most Americans approve of same-sex marriage and it is, in fact, protected by the constitution.
Article below with link.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5 to 4 decision. He was joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.
The decision, the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of same-sex marriage.
As in earlier civil rights cases, the Supreme Court had moved cautiously and methodically, laying careful judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.
As late as October, the justices ducked the issue, refusing to hear appealsfrom rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. That decision delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19.
Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision not to act, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry.
The court did not agree to resolve the issue for the rest of the nation until January, in cases filed by gay and lesbian couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court heard extended arguments in April, and the justices seemed sharply divided over what the Constitution has to say about same-sex marriage.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said their clients had a fundamental right to marry and to equal protection, adding that the bans they challenged demeaned their dignity, imposed countless practical difficulties and inflicted particular harm on their children.
The Obama administration, which had gradually come to embrace the cause of same-sex marriage, was unequivocal in urging the justices to rule for the plaintiffs.
“Gay and lesbian people are equal,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said. “They deserve equal protection of the laws, and they deserve it now.”
Lawyers for the four states said their bans were justified by tradition and the distinctive characteristics of opposite-sex unions. They added that the question should be resolved democratically, at the polls and in state legislatures, rather than by judges.
The Supreme Court had once before agreed to hear a case arising from a constitutional challenge to a same-sex marriage ban, California’sProposition 8, in 2012 in Hollingsworth v. Perry. At the time, nine states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex couples to marry.
But when the court’s ruling arrived in June 2013, the justices ducked, with a majority saying the case was not properly before them, and none of them expressing a view on the ultimate question of whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriage.
A second decision the same day, in United States v. Windsor, provided the movement for same-sex marriage with what turned out to be a powerful tailwind. The decision struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred federal benefits for same-sex couples married in states that allowed such unions.
The Windsor decision was based partly on federalism grounds, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion stressing that state decisions on how to treat marriages deserved respect. But lower courts focused on other parts of his opinion, ones that emphasized the dignity of gay relationships and the harm that families of gay couples suffered from bans on same-sex marriage.
In a remarkable and largely unbroken line of more than 40 decisions, state and federal courts relied on the Windsor decision to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.