This ruling changes everything. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that The Constitution protects the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, clearing a path for full national marriage equality.
This is as big a victory as we could possibly have hoped for. Now's a good time for everyone to celebrate -- the ruling is a win-win for everyone. It's not like some couples won and other couples lost. What this decision means is that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as everyone else, and everyone else's right to marry isn't harmed at all. Everybody wins.
So, what happens next? The ruling takes effect right away, which means lower courts will just have to issue a little paperwork and marriages can start very soon -- if they haven't already.
Of course, the fight for marriage equality is still far from over. Officials in various states have said that they'll do whatever they can to make it difficult for couples to marry or have their licenses recognized.
If this sounds familiar, it's because it's similar to what officials did in the 1950s when the Supreme Court ordered an end to segregated schools. Back then, some places just closed schools altogether rather than integrate them. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out the state National Guard to stop black students from entering a high school in Little Rock. Florida declared the Supreme Court ruling null and void. The Governor of Alabama personally blocked a schoolhouse door. When Medgar Evers sued Mississippi for failing to integrate its schools, he was shot at this home by a white supremacist, and died after a segregated hospital refused to admit him. His killer wasn't convicted until 1994.
All of these efforts to block integration were illegal -- particularly the murder. But the opponents of progress dragged out the process of ending segregated schools for decades. And it's possible that their modern-day equivalents will try to do the same.
Various GOP Presidential candidates say they'll disregard the pro-equality language from the Supreme Court. North Carolina just passed a bill allowing officials to opt out of providing a license to all couples, gay and straight. Numerous Republicans in the Texas House voted to defy the Supreme Court. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says he would not be bound by a Supreme Court ruling that grants the freedom to marry. And former House Majority Leader Tom Delay encouraged people to defy the "10" justices of the Supreme Court. Clearly, this a man who knows what he's talking about.
But these folks don't understand what's happened. Marriage equality is coming. There's no stopping it -- and that's a good thing, because expanding the freedom to marry for same-sex couples makes this country stronger.
For nearly 130 years, the Supreme Court has defended marriage as a special, fundamental right. They protected access to marriage for women. For the poor. For interracial couples. For the incarcerated. For the divorced. And why? Because as the Court wrote over a century ago, forming a bond with the person of your choosing "the most important relation in life." It is embedded in the foundation of the country. Not just for some of us, but for all of us.
So the idea that gays and lesbians should be included really isn't all that new. It's been there in the Constitution this whole time. The Constitution's just been waiting for us to catch up to it.
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