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US Supreme Court rules all states must recognize same-sex marriage

June 26, 2015

In a sweeping historic decision released on June 26, the US Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution requires all states to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages.

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court justices settled the case of Obergefell v. Hodges by issuing a new legal definition of marriage, and overturning the laws of all the states that currently do not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Wriing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that the Constitution “does not permit the state to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.”

Claiming that the institution of marriage has “evolved over time,” Justice Kennedy wrote that the essence of the marital bond is a sharing of intimacy, which does not require partners of opposite sexes. He argued that the plaintiffs in the Obergefell case were not undermining the institution of marriage, but showing their respect for that institution by seeking to participate in it. The majority opinion reasoned that the ability to marry would help to stabilize same-sex unions, and benefit the children raised by homosexual partners.

Justice Kennedy explicitly rejected the notion that marriage is intrinsically oriented to procreation, writing: “An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any state.”

The majority opinion said that religious bodies would retain the right to argue that “same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” The First Amendment, Justice Kennedy wrote, “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection” for such expressions of belief.

In a strong dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the majority decision was “deeply disheartening.” Saying that the question of marriage should properly be left to state legislators, and ultimately to the people, he wrote: “Under Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

The Chief Justice questioned whether the Obergefell decision would leave religious bodies free to argue against same-sex marriage. He observed that the majority opinion acknowledged the right of churches to “advocate” against homosexuality. He continued: “The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

In a separate, blistering dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia referred to the majority decision as a “judicial Putsch” and “this Court’s threat to American democracy.” Justice Scalia said that by redefining marriage, the Supreme Court “robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

Openly mocking the argument of the majority opinion, Justice Scalia said that there was no warrant in the Constitution for the Court’s finding. He wrote: “When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so.”


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  • Posted by: trini - Jun. 29, 2015 6:31 PM ET USA

    further to my comment condemning the thinking of Justice Kennedy, it seems to me that anyone who advocates the impossible idea that same-sex unions are the same as marriage (which is and has always been the absolute foundation of every society) should be excluded from practising law in any capacity, because to equate same-sex union and marriage is to totally abandon logical thinking, and therefore renders such an advocate totally unsuited for practising law, which depends on logical thinking.

  • Posted by: trini - Jun. 29, 2015 6:20 PM ET USA

    Justice Kennedy's words are surely the most untrue, unhistorical, illogical, unphilosophical, anti-social, anti-common sense, anti-family, anti-religious and plain stupid statement ever made in the whole history of mankind. He wrote that "the essence of the marital bond is a sharing of intimacy, which does not require partners of opposite sexes". Even the pagan Greeks and Romans agreed that marriage was for procreation, and homosexual or extra-marital sex was something different from marriage.

  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Jun. 28, 2015 10:11 PM ET USA

    Don't the Catholic justices who voted for same-sex marriage (and the Catholics who support it), believe that God the Holy Spirit guides the successors of the apostles into all truth? "When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Jun. 26, 2015 8:32 PM ET USA

    If you think of it, the final session of the Synond on family falling on this year will be providential, if the Church takes that chance to reaffirm truth.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 26, 2015 7:28 PM ET USA

    It's God who decides the right, not the Supreme Court. More prayer is needed in our land. We must defend "objective truth" not subjective truth.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jun. 26, 2015 6:08 PM ET USA

    Fools gold. Marriage is not born from the State or any legal political authority but existed prior to such authority hence the Supreme Court or any political authority is incompetent to define marriage. This amounts to declaring war on marriage. That two Catholics would sign on to this and its relativism is tragic and morally wrong.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 26, 2015 5:22 PM ET USA

    A simple question. Will one Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC have a mind to excommunicate one SCOTUS associate justice? Will Kennedy have a mind to still receive Holy Communion at the next Red Mass? It is odd, isn't it, that one can be excommunicated for pretending to be a priest, but remain 'in communion' after scandalizing millions of people. There is a bizarre legalism that makes a defense of Christian morals a matter for the moot court.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Jun. 26, 2015 4:03 PM ET USA

    This awful Supreme Court decision, decided by a Catholic, may be a blessing in disguise. The true Catholic Church will have its tax exempt status taken away as well as government subsidies, and the apostate church will continue to serve Mammon. We will know where to go now to hear the unvarnished word of God. The true Church will go underground to perform sacramental marriages as faithful priests will have to give up their state licenses to marry people. The lines are being clearly drawn now

  • Posted by: Leferink557202 - Jun. 26, 2015 12:44 PM ET USA

    And with this decision comes a new wave of anti-Catholic persecution here in the USA (OK, it's been going on for a while, but this is a benchmark day for it). May God have mercy on us, and may Immaculate Mary, Patroness of the United States, and blessed Joseph, her most chaste spouse, intercede for all who uphold the true definition of marriage.