excerpts from the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage

Today was a great day for all of us who love freedom and their fellow human beings! The Supreme Court decisions tend to be on the long side. I have excerpted what I thought were the most salient points and added Justice Kennedy’s heartfelt conclusion. If you read nothing else, please make time to read the last paragraph – it is the most touching.

“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. [….] changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations […]”

“A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy [cites Loving vs. State of Virginia, which abolished the ban on interracial marriage]. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has explained, because ‘it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and when to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition’.”

“A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.”

“A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation and education […] Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life.”

“Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order. […] by virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage […] It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society.”

“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 they once were. […] It would misunderstand these men and women to say that 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 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.”


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