The United States Supreme Court ruled on Friday to legalize marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. They declared that refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the Constitution. The ruling produces the most significant change in laws governing marriage since the court ruled against state bans on inter-racial marriage almost 50 years ago. The Court ruled 5-4 in support of same-sex marriage.
36 states currently allow gay couples to marry and now the ruling means the ban ends in the other states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. In the past 18 months, court rulings struck down marriage bans in rapid succession — nearly 60 separate decisions in more than half the states.
Fourteen couples and two widowers challenged the bans. Attorneys Mary Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier presented their case before the Court, arguing that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right for all people and should not be left to popular vote. Three years after President Barack Obama first voiced his support for gay couples’ right to marry, his administration supported the same sex couples at the Supreme Court.