USA, Washington: In a landmark judgement, the US Supreme Court ruled on Friday that gays can marry nationwide and states cannot ban same-sex marriage – an issue that divides America and India.
The 5-4 ruling giving LGBT rights activists their biggest victory came after decades of litigation and fast-changing public opinion that saw President Barack Obama to come out in support of same sex marriage three years ago.
His administration supported the challengers to the gay marriage bans in the apex court.
Unlike India, where homosexuality is criminalised, same-sex couples can marry in 36 US states today, but federal appeals courts have been divided over whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry and recognize such marriages performed elsewhere.
The 14 same-sex couples and two widowers who challenged gay marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio were just a few of the estimated 650,000 same-sex couples in the US, 125,000 of whom are raising children.
Lawyers for the four states argued their bans were justified by tradition and the distinctive characteristics of opposite-sex unions.
The issue, they said should be resolved democratically, at the polls and in state legislatures, rather than by judges.
The challengers included same-sex couples who wanted to marry, those who sought to have their lawful out-of-state marriage recognized, as well as those who wanted to amend a birth or death certificate with their marriage status.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority with four liberal justices.
“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were,” he added
In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the court`s “threat to American democracy.”
“The substance of today`s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” he wrote. “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today`s judicial Putsch.”