The U. S. Supreme Court today affirmed that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state. Let the wedding bells ring throughout the country!
The ruling was 5-4 with Justice Kennedy delivering the opinion of the court and joined by the four liberal justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.
As of yesterday 37 states allowed same-sex marriage, 26 by court decision (including New Jersey), 8 by the legislature, and 3 by popular vote. Now it will be legal in all states. Massachusetts led the way with a marriage equality law in May, 2004, and just 15 years later it has become the law throughout our country. Polls show it is supported by a majority of Americans.
In New Jersey wedding bells for same-sex couples began ringing in October 2013 after the NJ Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage must be permitted. However today is the culmination of a national effort with inspirational early leadership from conservative lawyer David Boies and liberal lawyer Eugene Olson. Justice Kennedy ends the ruling by saying,
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. 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.”
As one of the most important rulings in many years, it opens up a window that the LGBT community so richly deserves. After many legal battles, rallies, legislative hearings, vetoes, endorsements, laws in favor and bans against, and even calumny heaped upon supporters, the victory and vindication have arrived. It brings joy not only to those same-sex couples who want to marry but their children, families, friends, work colleagues and so many others who believe that people of the same sex have the same right to share in matrimony.
From the early days of rioting at the Stonewall Inn bar (1969) in New York City to the stately halls of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC., it has been a remarkable journey, difficult, determined and sometimes painful, but remarkably quick and resulting in an outcome that should bring pride to all Americans.
For more about the struggle to bring marriage equality to NJ, some of those instrumental in the success, and a little history, go beyond the fold
The opinion of the court is here.
While it wasn’t immediately apparent when the ruling would officially take effect, court mandates are typically issued after 25 days.
Chief Justice ROBERTS filed a dissenting opinion in which SCALIA and THOMAS joined. SCALIA filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS joined. THOMAS filed a dissenting opinion in which SCALIA joined. ALITO filed a dissenting opinion in which SCALIA and THOMAS joined. All to no avail on their part.
A disappointing moment was in 2010 when a NJ Senate Committee approved a marriage equality bill, but the full senate could not muster enough votes, and the Assembly decided not to take up the matter.
In 2012 the legislature passed a marriage equality bill which Governor Christie vetoed. On September 27 2013 a Superior Court ruled that “The State Of New Jersey shall permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements to enter into a civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey.” A few days thereafter the NJ Supreme Court denied the state’s motion for a stay and ordered that the September 27 ruling remains in full force and effect. Gov. Christie did not contest the decision. On October 21 wedding bells started ringing throughout New Jersey.
Many, many people were instrumental and long-time warriors on behalf of marriage equality. Garden State Equality members under the direction of Steven Goldstein fought long and hard. So did State Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Ray Lesniak. Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin spoke out with passion. Lamda Legal took our cases to court.
2004 Domestic Partnership Act 2004.
2006 Lewis v. Harris: “Unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our constitution.”
2006 the Civil Union Act.
2008 the Civil Union Review Commission unanimously reported that civil unions did not grant equal protection to same-sex couples.
2010 The NJ Senate tried but failed to pass the Marriage Equality Act.
2010 Garden State Equality & Lamda Legal filed in NJ court to grant same sex couples the right to marry.
As Senator Weinberg said while the march was still underway, “Today we have the ability to recognize the love and commitment that is shared by same sex couples.” On June 26, 2015, that belief became enshrined in our nation’s laws.