Cover Story

BREAKING; US Supreme Court legalises same-sex marriages [Read the judgment]

Gaurav Pathak
26 Jun 2015 3:30 PM GMT
BREAKING; US Supreme Court legalises same-sex marriages  [Read the judgment]
Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

In a historic and landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled same-sex marriage as legal. The judgment was delivered by a majority of 5:4 and said that the US Constitution provides for due process and as a result, same-sex marriages cannot be illegal.

The Court held that “Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriagebetween two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State”. Noting the reasons behind the petitioners coming to the Supreme Court, it observed, “The history of marriage as a union between two persons ofthe opposite sex marks the beginning of these cases.  To the respondents, it would demean a timeless institution if marriage were extended to same-sex couples.  But the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect—andneed—for its privileges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the petitioners’ own experiences.”

The Supreme Court in its judgment also went through the jurisprudence behind the issue and observed, “The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential.   These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution.  Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations. This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights.  Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness.  Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives.  Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes.  Questions about the legal treatment of gays and lesbians soonreached the courts, where they could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law.  In 2003, this Court overruled its 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U. S. 186, which upheld a Georgia law thatcriminalized certain homosexual acts, concluding laws making same-sex intimacy a crime “demea[n] the lives of homosexual persons.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 575.  In 2012, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was also struck down. United States v. Windsor, 570 U. S. ___.  Numerous same-sex marriage cases reaching the federalcourts and state supreme courts have added to the dialogue.”

Relying on the 14th Amendment, the Court ordered, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State.  Since same-sex couplesmay now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sexmarriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sexcharacter.”

At the time of judgment, same-sex marriages were illegal in 13 states, while Alabama had appealed against a judgment which had allowed same-sex marriages.

President Obama has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court by tweeting, ”Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins’.

Read the full text of Judgment here

Next Story