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US Supreme Court rules in favour of gay marriage

Supreme Court declares same-sex couple can marry anywhere in America.

gay marriage

The US Supreme Court declared on Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the country, in a culmination of two decades of litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

"No union is more profound than marriage," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the court's four more liberal justices.

Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

President Barack Obama welcomed the decision on Twitter, calling it "a big step in our march toward equality."

Dissenting judges

Hundreds of activists gathered outside the Supreme Court building on Friday to celebrate the decision, chanting, "Love has won" and singing the US national anthem.

The crowd also raised a large flag with the pink equal sign that has come to symbolise the gay marriage movement. Some wept.

The four dissenting justices each filed a separate opinion explaining their views.

"This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent.

"If you are among the many Americans - of whatever sexual orientation - who favour expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision," Roberts said. "But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."

The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But some state officials and county clerks might decide there is little risk in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The cases before the court involved laws from several states that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders and they also have refused to recognise valid marriages from elsewhere.

Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. An estimated 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, according to the institute.


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