Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director

A statement from Carol Holladay, ACPA's representative for the Public Policy Consortium with ACPA peer associations in Student Affairs:

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry nationwide, a landmark civil rights ruling that has sweeping implications for the American society.

The historic 5-4 decision ends the state-by-state patchwork of legality where it comes to same-sex weddings and which states recognize such unions. It represents the final summit for gay rights advocates who pressed for the issue through the federal courts—and traversed the system with surprising quickness.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. Same-sex couples who challenged state bans on their unions “hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”  He added: “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The constitution grants them that right.”

The outcome was not a surprise, and accompanies a rapid cultural shift in the country toward acceptance of same-sex marriage. It comes on the anniversary—June 26—of two other historic Supreme Court gay rights decisions: a 6-3 decision in 2003 striking down criminal sodomy laws, and a 5-4 decision in 2013 striking down the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

That Kennedy wrote Friday’s same-sex marriage opinion was also not a surprise. He authored those previous gay rights opinions and gets credit from advocates for playing a critical role in advancing LGBT rights in America.

Kennedy clearly had a sense of history as he wrote the opinion. Joining Kennedy in majority was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts and three other conservative justices dissented, writing that states and voters should decide how to define marriage and cautioned what consequences such a ruling might bring. Joining Roberts in dissents were and justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Roberts wrote that the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, but the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not.

 “This court is not a legislature,” Roberts wrote. “Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us." Roll Call Reports, 6-26-15

Carol Holladay
Hurt, Norton & Associates
503 Capitol Court, NE Suite 200
Washington, DC 20002