The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Friday that the 14th Amendment requires states to marry gay couples and to recognize out-of-state marriages among LGBT couples.
Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, along with Justice Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who joined the majority in legalizing gay marriage, read the majority opinion from the bench.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” according to the decision.
The dissent is blistering, according to SCOTUS Blog:
The Chief Justice has the principal dissent, which is 31 pages long. Toward the end of it, he says, “If you are among the many Americans–of whatever sexual orientation–who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
The decision brings marriage equality to the 13 states – including Texas – that still had gay marriage bans in place. Texas lawmakers put a gay marriage ban in place in 2003, six years after the legislature banned issued marriage licenses to gay couples. Two years later, in 2005, Texas voters overwhelmingly voted to add a gay marriage ban to the state constitution.
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
Watch President Obama's full statement to the nation, in which he credits LGBT activists and laymen alike:
“Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect. That’s the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court, but more importantly, it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were.
And slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”
The historic decision on Friday came from arguments in April in four cases – Obergefell v. Hodges in Ohio, Deboer v. Snyder in Michigan, Bourke v. Beshear in Kentucky and Tanco v. Haslam in Tennessee. Texas has its own gay marriage lawsuit – DeLeon v. Perry – but that case was put on hold after arguments in January before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In April, Jim Obergefell told the HRC Houston gala dinner that he was humbled to play a small part in moving the marriage equality fight forward.
“We have to stand up not just for ourselves but for every LGBT person who has lived a life of fear not knowing the joy of living the true life they wanted or deserved,” he said.
Obergefell's partner, John Arthur, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2011. In 2013, the couple of more than 20 years flew from Ohio in a plane designed to address Arthur's medical needs so they could be married on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. When they returned to Ohio, the couple sued for recognition of their marriage so that Obergefell's name would appear on Arthur's death certificate. Arthur died shortly after their return.
Watch Obergefell's heartfelt reaction to the ruling.
Now, nearly 23,000 gay couples across Texas are expected to marry in the next three years, bringing a $181.6 million economic boom to the state. Rallies are planned across Texas to celebrate the decision, including events in Houston. Lambda Legal, Victory Fund Houston and HRC are partnering with several of LGBT and progressive groups to host an event. Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church will also celebrate the decision.
Events are also planned in Amarillo, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Worth, Harlingen, San Antonio and Waco. Check the full list as compiled by Unite For Marriage and Texas For Marriage.
County clerks across Texas are ready to start marrying gay couples, except in Harris County. Clerk Stan Stanart says he'll wait for guidance from state officials before approving license applications. Nevermind that he says the Supreme Court decision will “destroy” the institution of marriage.
“I shouldn't be making up law or processes that are controlled by the state,” Stanart said ahead of the Supreme Court's ruling, adding that he would not offer extended business hours to handle a potential influx of applicants and would not move to modify the state's license application form to accommodate applicants of the same gender.
On Thursday, Attorney General Ken Paxton – who has defended the state's gay marriage ban and reminded voters every chance he gets – told county clerks and judges to hold off issuing licenses and marrying gay couples so he can “reflect on what the court says.”
“To be clear – the law in the state of Texas is that marriage is one man and one woman, and the position of this office is that the United States Constitution clearly does not speak to any right to marriage other than one man and one woman and that the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty and the right to believe in traditional marriage without facing discrimination. If the Court suggests otherwise, prudence dictates we reflect on precisely what the Court says, what it means, and how to proceed consistent with the rule of law.”
Following the ruling, Paxton railed against the “flawed” ruling and declared so-called “religious freedom” bills his next frontier to weaken it, without saying how he would order license-issuing clerks to proceed.
“Today’s ruling by five Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court marks a radical departure from countless generations of societal law and tradition. The impact of this opinion on our society and the familial fabric of our nation will be profound. Far from a victory for anyone, this is instead a dilution of marriage as a societal institution.
“What is most disturbing is the extent to which this opinion is yet another assault on the actual text of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law itself. Just as Roe v. Wade ripped from the hands of the American people the issue of life and placed it in the judge-made ‘penumbras’ of the Constitution, so has this opinion made clear that our governing document – the protector of our liberties through representative government – can be molded to mean anything by unelected judges.
“But no court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Nothing will change the importance of a mother and a father to the raising of a child. And nothing will change our collective resolve that all Americans should be able to exercise their faith in their daily lives without infringement and harassment.
“We start by recognizing the primacy and importance of our first freedom – religious liberty. …
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also released a full statement mired in so-called “religious liberty” rhetoric.
“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.
“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage. …”
Following the governor and attorney general's blistering admonisment of the ruling, a federal judge lifted the stay on all same-sex marriages in Texas.
— Christy Hoppe (@ChristyHoppe) June 26, 2015
The decision comes as Texas voters increasingly approve of gay marriage, but remain divided over it. But a majority of Harris County residents support gay marriage, according to the 34th Annual Kinder Houston Area Survey released in May.
Reaction pours in
Equality Texas declared victory.
— Equality Texas (@EqualityTexas) June 26, 2015
Mayor Annise Parker, have said previously we “already won,” kept it simple on her first-blush reaction, then shared a family moment.
At last! “And the greatest of these is love…”-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) June 26, 2015
Text from our youngest daughter: “It is an AMAZING DAY!!!! Freaking hugggeeee historical day!!!! Hoooorrraaaayyyyy ☺️☺️������������������❤️❤️”-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) June 26, 2015
Parker followed those thoughts by issuing an official statement.
“At last! What a joyous, historic day for America, the LGBT community, individual families, the institution of marriage and the fight for equality. I used to think that I would not see this day in my lifetime. In recent years, however, it’s been clear that personal hearts and minds, and the courts, were headed in this direction. Marriage is about love, commitment, and family. Couples who make that commitment deserve to be respected under law, with the full legal protections that accompany a marriage license. Finally, they are!”
Mayor Parker and her partner of more than two decades, Kathy Hubbard, were married in January 2014 in California.
Texas Democrats joined Parker in celebration.
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) June 26, 2015
And gay people got married in Texas! This longterm couple in Dallas was the first.
Iconic Dallas gay couple Jack Evans, George Harris just arrived at clerk's office. Been together 54 years pic.twitter.com/wpqhcv076V
— Lone Star Q (@lsqnews) June 26, 2015
Photo by Rob Martinez