The One Line in Today's Decision That Nails Why Marriage Equality Matters

June 26th 2015

Mike Vainisi

The Supreme Court handed down a historic opinion today, ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This strikes down state-level bans on same-sex marriages and requires that all 50 states issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In the court's decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy had an eloquent paragraph to sum up the importance of this moment. He said what same-sex marriage advocates have been saying for a long time:

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.

Justice Kennedy, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and is generally considered to be the conservative justice most likely to vote with the four liberals on the court, also authored the majority opinion in the last major LGBT rights case, which ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages.

Anthony Kennedy

Kennedy is 78. He grew up in Sacramento, California, attended Stanford and Harvard Law School. He's been on the Supreme Court bench since 1988.

For more on the long struggle of the LGBT rights movement, check out this video:

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