Same-sex marriage legal in all states - US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court declared today 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 via Twitter, calling it "a big step in our march toward equality."
Hundreds of activists gathered outside the Supreme Court building 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 symbolize 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 favor 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.