In a landmark decision on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal throughout America, finding that the constitution provides gay and lesbian couples the same rights as it does straight couples.
The historic ruling invalidates same-sex marriage bans present in 13 states across the country.
The 5-4 vote reflected the deep divide on the issue in American society. The bench's four liberal justices were joined by conservative Anthony Kennedy, who wrote his third landmark opinion expanding gay rights.
Invoking powerful and unequivocal language, Kennedy declared same-sex relationships worthy of the same protections afforded under the sacred institution of marriage between men and women.
For the marriage equality movement the ruling is a triumph and a testament to the astonishing rate at which it has changed minds on the issue. When New York state legalized same-sex marriage four years ago, 39 states had explicit bans on the practice.
In 2013 the federal government began to recognize same-sex couples’ legal marriages, while even President Barack Obama himself publicly opposed the practice until 2012.
“Today is a big step in our march toward equality,” Obama posted on Twitter. “Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins.”
The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, involved four separate cases from Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.
Today's ruling overturns laws in those four states plus Georgia Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Dakota.