World

US Supreme Court legalises gay marriage

People from the US to Singapore have changed their Facebook filters to mark the US Supreme Court's move to make same-sex marriage legal.

The much-awaited landmark decision on Friday (June 26) triggered wild jubilation and tears of joy.

In a 5-4 ruling, the highest court in the United States said the Constitution requires all 50 states to carry out and recognise marriages between people of the same sex.

President Barack Obama praised the ruling as “a victory for America”. 

PHOTO: Twitter

The court decision marked a fresh coup for the White House, coming a day after the Supreme Court upheld an important and disputed section of Obama’s signature health care reform.

“Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” Obama said at the White House, which changed its online avatar to the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement.

“This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts – when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

21st country

It also made the United States the 21st country or territory in the world that recognises same-sex marriage as legal.

Flag-waving LGBT advocates on the packed Supreme Court forecourt cheered, danced, shouted “USA! USA!” and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in celebration.

Fourteen same-sex couples and the widowers of two gay couples had challenged de facto bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

All four states had insisted in their respective constitutions that marriage could only be a union between a man and a woman.

The court ruling said:

“The Fourteenth Amendment (providing equal protection under the law) requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state." 

Marriage has been a core institution in society since ancient times, “but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society,” reasoned Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the ruling.

To exclude them from marriage, Kennedy said, would deny same-sex couples “the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage”.

Dissent

Voicing dissent was Chief Justice John Roberts, who expressed concern that the court was making a decision better left to elected state legislatures.

He said: “If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision.

“Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits.

“But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.” - AFP

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