On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a historical landmark that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. In a 5-4 decision now legalizes LGBT marriage nationwide, meaning the 14 states who previously did not allow gays and lesbians to wed must now do so.
To introduce Americans to the new constitutional ruling, we’ve gathered key facts about LGBT marriage, how it became constitutional and what it means for the future.
Interpreted Under the 14th Amendment
The court’s ruling is interpreted under the 14th Amendment. Section 1 states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
According to the Supreme Court, limiting marriage solely to heterosexual couples violates the right of equal protection. Justice Anthony Kennedy states, “no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”
A Shift In American Attitudes of LGBT Marriage
Studies have shown a dramatic shift in acceptance for same-sex marriage across America. In 2009, 37% of Americans supported same-sex marriage. In 2015, that number has shifted to 57% according to the Pew Research Center.
Same-sex Marriage Was Previously Legal in 36 States
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, LGBT marriage was legal in 36 states including the District of Columbia. Out of the legalizing states, 19 had previously kept same-sex marriage under the concept of a civil union until 2014 when federal courts struck down amendments banning same-sex unions.
The First US Same-sex Marriage
The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States took place on May 17, 2004, in Massachusetts. Tanya McCloskey, 52, and Marcia Kadish, 56, were married by Cambridge City Clerk Margaret Drury at 9:10 a.m.
20 Other Countries Allow LGBT Marriage
America now joins 20 other countries allowing same-sex marriage. The first country to do so was the Netherlands in 2000 followed by Belgium, Canada, Spain and South Africa. Recently, Ireland was the most recent country to sanction gay marriage.
Same-Sex Marriage Still Has A Long Way To Go
Even though the Supreme Court’s ruling was a huge gain for same-sex marriage, it still has a long way to go in terms of complete public acceptance. In Louisiana, businesses can deny service to same-sex couples. In Alabama a state Senate committee has approved a bill to take the state out of issuing licenses altogether.
If you are in need of a same-sex lawyer for any reason, call Rhode Island LGBT Lawyer Susan T. Perkins today at 401-PERKINS for a FREE consultation.