A divided Supreme Court made history on Friday, ruling that the Constitution ensures the right of same-sex couples to marry.
In a resounding decision that caps a remarkably fast transformation across the social, legal and political landscapes, the high court overturned marriage restrictions in Kentucky and three other states and ensured marriage equality for gay couples nationwide.
“Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
The court’s 5-4 majority concluded the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection ensures the same-sex marriage rights. In a Tweet that included the hashtag #LoveWins, President Barack Obama called the decision a “big step in our march toward equality.”
The decision locks in same-sex marriage rights, guaranteeing that marriages that have already been performed must be recognized in every state. The only way to unravel the court’s action would be to amend the U.S. Constitution, a longshot that has fallen from political favor.