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Same-sex couples in America now have the right to marry in all 50 states

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of marriage equality.

Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington
Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington
Image: Associated Press

THE US SUPREME Court has ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states.

Gay and lesbian couples already can legally 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.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.

“No union is more profound than marriage,” Justice Kennedy wrote, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.

The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights and President Barack Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.

The President welcomed the news immediately on Twitter.

What happens now?

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Celebrations have got underway but 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 Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee 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 UCLA’s Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans.

Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States.

More: American woman is asked to tone down her “relentlessly gay” garden, gets spectacular revenge

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Associated Press

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