The Supreme Court on Friday struck down states' same-sex marriage bans, bringing marriage equality to all 50 states. The 5-4 ruling embraced the main argument of same-sex marriage advocates: Marriage is a fundamental right, and bans that prevent same-sex couples from marrying are discriminatory.
Here are the seven most remarkable quotes from the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who joined the court's four liberals to support marriage equality.
1) "No union is more profound than marriage"
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … 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."
2) Same-sex marriage bans demean gay couples
"Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society."
3) Marriage has changed and evolved — for the better
"As the role and status of women changed, the institution further evolved. … These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution of marriage. Indeed, changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process."
4) Same-sex marriage bans hurt children
"April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are co-plaintiffs in the case from Michigan. They celebrated a commitment ceremony to honor their permanent relation in 2007. … Michigan, however, permits only opposite-sex married couples or single individuals to adopt, so each child can have only one woman as his or her legal parent. If an emergency were to arise, schools and hospitals may treat the three children as if they had only one parent. And, were tragedy to befall either DeBoer or Rowse, the other would have no legal rights over the children she had not been permitted to adopt. This couple seeks relief from the continuing uncertainty their unmarried status creates in their lives."
5) People who serve their country in war are hurt by same-sex marriage bans
"Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Ijpe DeKoe and his partner Thomas Kostura, co-plaintiffs in the Tennessee case, fell in love. In 2011, DeKoe received orders to deploy to Afghanistan. Before leaving, he and Kostura married in New York. A week later, DeKoe began his deployment, which lasted for almost a year. When he returned, the two settled in Tennessee, where DeKoe works full-time for the Army Reserve. Their lawful marriage is stripped from them whenever they reside in Tennessee, returning and disappearing as they travel across state lines. DeKoe, who served this Nation to preserve the freedom the Constitution protects, must endure a substantial burden."
6) Love can't wait: This issue doesn't need more debate to be decided
"There may be an initial inclination in these cases to proceed with caution—to await further legislation, litigation, and debate. … Yet there has been far more deliberation than this argument acknowledges. There have been referenda, legislative debates, and grassroots campaigns, as well as countless studies, papers, books, and other popular and scholarly writings. There has been extensive litigation in state and federal courts. … This has led to an enhanced understanding of the issue — an understanding reflected in the arguments now presented for resolution as a matter of constitutional law."
7) Marriage is a fundamental right
"Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall 'deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.' … Applying these established tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution. In Loving v. Virginia … which invalidated bans on interracial unions, a unanimous Court held marriage is 'one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.'"