In a landmark decision Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage, making the United States the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.
The ruling marks a huge victory for the gay rights movement and members of the LGBTQ community. Married same-sex partners will now be able to enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples.
In the case, known as Obergefell v. Hodges, the nine Supreme Court justices were faced with two questions: whether states could ban same-sex marriage and whether states had to recognize lawful marriages performed out of state.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for the court’s four other liberal justices, stating that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote. “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. 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.”
The announcement comes at a time when public support for gay marriage is at an all-time high, with about two-thirds of Americans now in favor and 37 states where it is legal.
From the White House, President Barack Obama praised the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This ruling is a victory for America,” Obama said. “This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”