On 26 June, history was made when the United States Supreme Court legalised the marriage of same-sex couples in all 50 states.
Gay and lesbian couples were already able to marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia, but the 5–4 ruling means the remaining 14 states in the South and Midwest can no longer enforce their bans on same-sex marriage.
Barack Obama, the first US president to openly support the legalisation of gay marriage, has lauded the Supreme Court decision. At a press conference, Obama called the ruling a victory for gay and lesbian couples, a victory for their children and a victory for America.
“If we are created equally, then surely the love we commit to one another should be equal as well,” said Obama. “It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion on the ruling, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
“No union is more profound than marriage,” wrote Kennedy. The stories of the people asking for the right to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honour their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond.”
In the aftermath of the decision, millions flocked to gay pride events all over America. The White House stood illuminated with rainbow-coloured lights, and over 26 million people added a rainbow filter to their Facebook profile picture to show that “love wins”.
The Netherlands became the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, followed by Belgium in 2003. Since then, the following countries have joined in: Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, the Caribbean Netherlands, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brazil, France, England and Wales, Scotland, Luxembourg, Finland, Slovenia, the Republic of Ireland and Greenland. Australia is yet to legalise same-sex marriage.