BREAKING: Supreme Court Greenlights Marriage Equality, WE WON A MAJOR THING

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. The 5-4 decision, which was written by Justice Kennedy, ruled that states are no longer allowed to ban marriage between two gay people.

This ruling will allow same-sex couples the opportunity access many of the same rights and privileges as different-sex couples, like filing taxes jointly, hospital visitation without having to file a power of attorney, inheriting a spouse’s estate without being taxed for it, sponsoring a spouse for US citizenship, and more. Joint adoption of children will become easier for many, although there are still aspects of same-sex parenting that will likely pose legal challenges for families.

April DeBoer and Jane Rowse with three of their children, via GLAD

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse with three of their children, via GLAD

However, as we all know well, this ruling (while groundbreaking and life-changing for many!) doesn’t fix everything. For instance, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and trans status is still legal in many states; it’s entirely possible for a now legally married same-sex couple to be fired from their jobs, or for the child they are both legal parents of to be refused admission to a school because of their parents’ sexual orientations. In recognition of the many hurdles that LGBT people still face and that won’t be addressed by this ruling, organizers with GetEQUAL and other organizations are standing outside the Supreme Court today carrying a banner saying “LGBTQ Liberation Can’t Wait” and dressed in black “reminding the American public, mainstream media, and other LGBTQ organizations that we must work toward liberation for all LGBTQ people.”

The plaintiffs in the cases that resulted in this ruling — April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Michigan, James Obergefell, Ijpe DeKoe and Thomas Kostura, and the same-sex couples involved in the case of Tanco v. Haslam — are examples of how much of a milestone this ruling will be for many LGBT families. WIth federal marriage equality, James Obergefell would have been able to have his name listed on his husband’s death certificate as a spouse when John Arthur passed away in 2013; April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse will have an added legal advantage when it comes to securing their rights to parent their children; Army Reserve Sergeant First Class DeKoe will have at least this one legal right against which to measure his military service to the US. This ruling is a landmark one that will likely be discussed in history books, but for right now and more importantly, it’s one that will make a difference in the lives of many in our community who need it urgently.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1071 articles for us.

197 Comments

  1. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I just read this on Facebook and was happily stunned, am now waiting for my American partner to get out of the shower so I can tell her the news 🙂

  2. 14 year old me never thought this day would come, for a lot of reasons.

    Growing up in Texas, my mom’s reaction to me coming out… I want to go back in time an hug 14 year old me and say “one day, more than a decade from now, you’ll be able to get married to your partner, and it’ll be your mom who texts you and wakes you up to tell you how excited she is for you.”

  3. Yay! Congrats to everybody who wants to get married who can do so now. I hope that the other important battles – health care, employment, housing, etc etc – will now be easier to win because of this victory.

  4. Congratulations to you Americans out there 🙂

    Not to rain on the parade, but is it just me, or does this feel really anticlimactic, especially in comparison to the release of US v. Windsor two years ago?

    • For someone who’s lived all my life in one of those 14 U.S. states that did not have same-sex marriage before today, this feels like a HUGE deal 🙂

      I honestly thought that it wouldn’t be legal for me to get married in my home state by the time I was ready to get married. If I had to depend on the legislature in my home state, or a popular vote among the citizens of my state, to legalize same-sex marriage, it would probably be 5, 10, 15 years before that happened.

      I’m overwhelmed with joy today because marriage rights are extended to ALL same-sex couples in the United States, not just those who live in certain states. Finally, us in the South aren’t being left out of the equal rights parade.

  5. “The majority expressly disclaims judicial “caution” and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insight” into the “nature of injustice.” As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”

    Ahahaha Roberts jesus christ. Fuck OFF

    • The part of the opinion Roberts is referring to, btw, being this frankly beautiful bit someone posted on Jezebel:

      “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.”

    • Also a precedent for doing that when there is clear evidence that the current laws are discriminatory in intent exists – Loving v. Virginia, which was a unanimous vote if I may add

  6. I was ugly-crying in my cubicle already and then my dad called to say congratulations, and he thanked me, and now I am just a TOTAL MESS. RIP the rest of my work day, nothing will be accomplished now.

  7. I’m so, so happy about Marriage Equality in the US!!!!
    And so,so devastated about the terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia today.
    I need more coffee to process all of this.
    But,man, congratulations, US of A!

  8. From a friend’s text: “Happy gay marriage day!!”

    YAY!!! Best day! I have the goofiest grin on my face. I will wait until I get home to read the decision – the last paragraphs were making me tear up at work.

    But we must stay constantly vigilant to protect our rights and work toward complete equality.

  9. While you’re right, Rachel, that there’s still work to be done around employment, housing, and other types of legally-permitted discrimination, Justice Kennedy has laid the groundwork for all those bricks to now fall. It’s in the very first sentence of the opinion, “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach….” By opening the Court’s opinion thusly, Justice Kennedy has essentially placed LGBTQ Americans–I believe for the first time–explicitly under the constitution as a group to be protected.

    Future cases arising from any other type of discrimination that are either explicitly articulated in the Constitution (e.g. voting, which is not so much an issue) or previously adjudicated for other groups/people (particularly as interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment) will now require that the same protections be extended to us! Because of this specific wording in Obergefell, I think it would be difficult for circuit courts to not find for LGBTQ plaintiffs in cases where the plaintiff’s queerness was clearly the only reason for the defendant’s action, say, in firing an employee or evicting a tenant. Any precedence for blocking such actions based on race or age or sex will now be precedence that applies on the basis of queerness.

    This, to me, feels like the biggest Pride gift of all. Thank you, Justice Kennedy!

    • As much as I wish that were true, I don’t think it’s right. Kennedy deliberately wrote this opinion in the language of substantive due process, and gave a wave of the hands (a jazzy wave, but only a wave nonetheless) toward equal protection. There’s no mention of suspect class whatsoever. Weirdly, there’s no mention at all of levels of scrutiny either. Kennedy just says “Marriage is a fundamental right. You can’t deny it to same-sex couples. End argument.” As satisfying as it is to see the Court close the book on marriage once and for all, it is not a good thing nor was it in our favor that he very deliberately ignored the class question or Equal Protection analysis in depth.

      The difference is, by framing his decision solely in terms of fundamental right, what Kennedy did here was revere marriage, not protect against same-sex discrimination. In this context it’s a distinction without a difference, but on all those other issues, it’s the only difference that matters. Those cases aren’t marriage. The legal logic will proceed on that basis: “Only marriage is a fundamental right. Gays and lesbians aren’t a suspect class, look at Obergfell where the Court didn’t say so.”

      Now it’s a whole other debate whether we wanted to be classified as a suspect class in the first place, or whether intermediate scrutiny would have been better, blah blah. But Kennedy had an opportunity here to recognize the class that he did backflips to decline. It was a purposeful dodge to make those future cases clearly fall in our favor.

  10. Don’t mind me. I’m just dancing around my room singing “FUCK YOU!!!” to all the bigots on tv who are mad about this right now like I’m Rick James talking to Charlie Murphy. So, Fuck Yo Couch, bigots. Fuck. Yo. Couch.

  11. Thank you so many times plus a million more times for including that marriage is not going to fix everything. And giving some space in the piece to orgs and groups reminding people that the liberation of all LGBTQI people can’t wait. We should put on our party hats today. But hold in our hearts that there is still so much work to be done and that marriage helps some in our community more than others.

    I love that AS brings this nuance. Thanks, Rachel!

  12. I am so so happy for all you Americans and also all of us. But also everytime some other country makes a step foward it hurts even more that my country still doesn’t and the US is usually more conservative than Germany is.

    So again, congratulations to everyone in the US and to all of us who live in a country that isn’t quite there yet: We’ll get there.

  13. Congratulations USA! And in pride month too. This is just so fantastic, happy crying all the way over here in the UK. Regardless of whether you want to marry or not it’s a huge milestone towards equality which deserves a moments pause, and sip of your favourite beverage…so Cheers!

  14. When I found out, I realized that I would no longer have to answer the whole “when are you going to settle down?” question I’ve been getting with a joke anymore. I used to reply with a sarcastic “when it’s legal.” Now I can respond with “when I’m ready.” I’ve never been happier to have the opportunity to make a joke taken away from me.

  15. This literally almost killed me! I heard about on the radio wgile i was driving to work and was so excited i almost crashed lol. So abso-fucking-lutely amazing! 😀

    • I will so totally get a ” It is so ordered” tattoo. I have space on a nice, visible part of my forearm, and I’m going to San Francisco in the fall ( I’m thinking of it as Gay Heaven. Please don’t tell me differently.) and I’m totally going to get it done… by a woman. Any one know any queer tattoo artists as excited about this ruling as much as I am, and who might tatttoo me?

  16. Omg today I just the best. I can’t believe it will now be legal in Louisiana. Where’s the party at tonite NOLA? About to cry happy tears in the shower then wear my fabulous rainbow dress! <3

  17. This is amazing!!! I share in your happiness. A win for you is a win for us all. I just hope with time my country will realize that love is love. Love always wins. <3

  18. Congratulations! ¡Felicidades!

    It’s beautiful to see videos of people celebrating :’)

    Don’t let stupid bigots ruin your happiness! Here in Mexico many priests and conservative jerks have been standing outside our administrative offices ever since the Suprema Corte ruled inconstitutional defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The catholic church is calling for a ‘family crusade’ which translates to spreading even more prejudice against LGBT people, and their hatred crusade is working, a transwoman was murdered in Chihuahua last week, so of course the struggle continues everywhere.

  19. Woo hoo! We won a thing! And Sun I’m marching in the Pride Parade with my CHURCH. So many things that younger me didn’t even know were possible and didn’t even think to dream of. I’m kind of verklempt.

    • I’d die. Best future, date-oriented joke I’ve heard yet today. Yes. The next person you meet who you can’t resist, and your heart jumps to your throat for, ask her to get married. Think about how amazing it is that THAT IS ACTUALLY AN OPTION SHE HAS TO CONSIDER.

  20. YAYAYAYAYAY happy for you guys WHOOO

    (now cmon Australia.. if a variety of major businesses/corporations took out a full page ad supporting marriage equality in a popular newspaper for fuck’s sake, it’s gotta be close right? Let’s get this show on the road already!)

    NOW LET US EAT CAKE!

  21. Trying really hard not to be too happy around family/folks I’m not out to. I’m screaming internally tho

    I was on the fence before but, I’m definitely going to some Pride celebration, now. Y’all its gonna be LIT!

  22. Maybe it’s because I never agreed with the idea of institutionalized love, I am not as excited as others. This is great news sure, but the real problem in the community isn’t marriage as alluded. Maybe now we will focus on the real fucking issue, which is our future, our youth who are being bullied for being queer, and told they are homophobic because they identify as trans. For the youth who have to do things they may not want to do just to get hormones. I’ll celebrate when all states have a law that says trans is legal, and trans panic is a hate crime.

    • I hear you. I think it’s an important step in the public consciousness for this to pass and supports acceptance of ‘the community’- but there’s also the risk of people deciding the ‘battle is over’ (not even close!).

      If you’re not following Darkmatter on Facebook you should; they’re a really eloquent pair and wrote a really really great status about all the ways that this is not at all the end of the fight. It’s really worth checking out too; it echoes many of your sentiments.

      • I don’t think people are deciding the battle is over. Even in all the celebrating, people are already talking about “celebrate today, work tomorrow.” I think we are allowed a day to celebrate.

        It’s not about marriage or institutionalized love. It’s about being legally recognized the same as our straight counterparts. It’s about being able to visit ailing loved ones in hospitals without incident, not being denied survivor’s benefits…all of the things that married couples everywhere take for granted- things that are necessary for practical survival. The acquisition of those rights is certainly something to celebrate.

        • Oh don’t get me wrong, I certainly think there’s cause for celebration and I’m celebrating (see my other comment above!). It is a big deal.

          I also recognise Al’s concern about other issues not being addressed and what happens now/tomorrow and I want to acknowledge their expression of said concern. When I talk of people thinking the battle might be over, this is especially pertinent relating to non-LGBTIQ folks who might view this as the final hurdle that’s just been eclipsed when oh no it’s not! There’s so much left to do! Our community knows this (mostly..) but other folks might not. There’s a danger there.

          Let’s be clear: today IS a big deal and we should definitely celebrate.. and then celebrate some more! But I think it’s okay for Al to think we have bigger fish to fry and to hope that we’ll get frying, so to speak.

          • Thank you for making my concerns and the concerns of others valid(and using the right pronouns). Again to me marriage means nothing as for years I’ve been against even straight marriage(and it finally makes sense it’s because I am an angry and partially closeted trans queer). Like it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay, and/or trans. I think that’s a way bigger issue than marriage cause without a job you have no money to get married.

          • I think we all know we have bigger fish to fry. I am a single polyamorous lesbian who isn’t even sure she wants to get married. However, I guess I am just rubbed the wrong way by people being debbie downer in a celebratory thread. This is something to be celebrated.

            Nobody here is denying that there is still so much to be done, in so many areas. I live in South Carolina, and I’m black. The confederate flag still flies here even in the wake of that horrific tragedy. Believe me, the amount o work to be done for equality in so many areas is not lost on most of us.

            I just don’t understand why being happy here seems to be such an offensive thing to some people. Maybe it’s all the mothballs in those closets? IDK. All I know is I am not letting anyone rain on my parade today.

          • Thank you Shannon1981 for expressing exactly what I wanted to say, but was unable to phrase eloquently.

            I’m going to fight every fight, but I’m also going to celebrate every victory.

            Cheers to a new milestone reached, and to all the brave queers who helped bring us here!

  23. Raising an especially celebratory glass to toast those in the US whom it will make the biggest difference to: those who have fought and struggled to be admitted to hospitals to see loved ones, to have their relationship acknowledged after the tragedy of their loved one’s passing, to be able to have their partner move to the US (so hard if finances don’t support an expensive trip to another state). May your lives and loves be easier now.
    Thank you to all who contributed to make that difference!

  24. I’m so glad AS is around right now, as we celebrate this momentous day!

    gawd, guys. I cried on the drive to work. I wish I could go out and celebrate instead of being at work.

    Words cannot express. My heart wants to explode with joy. <3

  25. So, what does this mean to our allies of gay marriage? Are they now going to switch to helping our LGBTQIA youth? Or, do they think we won so there is no helping left for us?

  26. I’m closeted, and am having a hard time explaining my behavior.

    My eyes are red because allergies.

    I’m jumping around because… allergies.

    I’m laughing because allergies.

  27. Victory #1: A BUNCH OF US CAN DO NEW STUFF NOW AAHHHH SO GOOD THIS IS A VERYVERYVERY GOOD DAYYYYYY! I’M SO HAPPY I CANNOT COHERE I’M SO

    Victory #2: LOOK AT US LOOK AT ALL OF US EVERYWHERE WE MADE IT TO TODAY! We’re not done, no, but we’re here, we’re alive, we’re alight, we’ll be alright. Wherever you are, that means you. <33333

  28. Pretty much everyone at my workplace: “Wow, LGBT people achieved equality today! They can live anywhere in the United States and have equal rights!”
    Me: : “I don’t think equality means what you think it means.”

  29. “Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect…”

    i find myself tearing up each time i hear it announced on the news…
    just want to hug everyone i see!

  30. Ahh, I’m really happy about the ruling this morning. :’) So much has changed just in my lifetime. Prop 8 banning gay marriage in California passed just 7 years ago! Now we all live in a country where gay marriage is a constitutional right. All future American kids will grow up with that right. It will be one more thing that homophobes can’t use as a weapon to justify their discrimination against us, one more thing that will no longer contribute to a sense of shame but instead a sense of pride.

    There’s been so much progress just in my lifetime: I remember when Clinton installed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (which was actually progress at the time because it allowed gays to serve in the military, if only they stayed in the closet). Twenty years ago my friends and I protested in Pioneer Courthouse Square against Ballot Measure 9 in Oregon, which would have changed the state Constitution to say that gays were ‘unnatural and perverse’. Stonewall, in 1969, was only 6 years before I was born.

    I’m really happy and thankful for all the people on the front lines of the fight to legalize gay marriage in the U.S. Raise a glass this weekend for all the people who risked their livelihoods and their lives to make the U.S. a better place for everyone. I hope the next 40 years we can all help the remaining homophobes here and abroad to join us at the equality table for some fancy rainbow drinks!

  31. I really want to be happier about this decision, but I’m just… not. That Kennedy quote everyone is sharing about marriage and how not being able to get married is being “condemned to live in loneliness” really, really rubs me the wrong way. The love that won today is one, very particular, way of loving and relationshipping and it was definitely presented as more valid than any other way of doing so.

    I think about how I felt when all the amendments were getting passed back in the 2004-ish era, and how I felt as a queer teenager watching it happen and I’m glad that’s not a thing anymore, but there’s so much to be done and so many other ways to be.

    • Is it wrong to not feel happier about this? When I heard the news this morning my first reaction wasn’t joy, but worry. Worry about the possibility of violence in the remaining hold out states that could still happen in the future. Worry that decision will not be enforced and meet with the sort of resistance that Brown v. Board (1954) received.

      I’ve had the worse fights with my mother today because she just wants to celebrate and not think about the reasons for worry. I’m proved of my gay uncle for all the handwork he’s done for HRC. It just feels like this shouldn’t be the end of the road, but the beginning of a whole new one. Anyone who feels like celebrating should and I’m glad so many are and the so many wrongs can now be put right. I will be celebrating at Pride in Minneapolis tomorrow. But is all right to say that while you embrace the decision you don’t feel entirely as joyful as it seems like you should be?

    • I have seen a couple of different memes/comics to that effect lately, and they really, really rub me the wrong way. The Confederate Flag is a symbol of racism and white supremacy, the LGBT movement often does racist things. Replacing one with the other does not change structural racism. Doing so only obscures the problems within the movement and lets people pretend racism is over.

  32. You guys, I asked on Tumblr if someone could photoshop Obama’s face on the gif I posted before and an amazing person made me this.

    I just wanted to share it with you because it’s my new favourite gif ever.

  33. Life is so serendipitious sometimes.

    I was up all night, crying and talking to my cisgender male partner because I was 99.9% sure I’m gay, and we’re trying to talk through what this means for our relationship. I love him, but I want a relationship with a woman. It’s all very confusing. We haven’t decided anything; this is all too new.

    An hour of sleep later, and on my way to a client meeting, I opened Twitter and I saw the news. I burst into tears and tweeted out a picture of myself, as well as the caption,

    ” I’m on the bus, I’m crying, and I don’t even care. Do you know what this means? I could marry who I want! # EqualityForAll”

    See what I did there?

    I outed myself, to ALL OF TWITTER, but best of all… to myself.

    I’m celebrating for so many reasons today, and I’m so excited I get to celebrate with all of you. Congratulations to everyone getting married today, and all of us who want to get married to the woman we (will) love one day.

    So…Hi, folks. I’m gay.

  34. Congratulations, America!
    I’m currently drinking Boston Larger on my sofa in Great Britain, watching Glastonbury festival footage on TV whilst glued to my macbook organising this year’s pride event, and all I can think is …”we’re getting there, we’re definitely getting there”!

  35. Now that I am a bit more composed, I can write a real and heartfelt response.

    I grew up in a small town in South Carolina, in a fundamentalist Baptist Church ( I am now an avowed atheist). I came out of the closet at the age of 14, in 1996. That was the same year the base cocktail for modern-day HIV/AIDS treatment came out. We were witch hunted, yet still I stayed out. I had been sent to conversion therapy at age 12, and by the time I came out officially, I would up not living with my parents for 8 months. I lived in a park for 2 days before being taken in by a PFLAG mom and an awesome drag queen. When I had to move back home, it was hell, but I survived. I went to college, only to find more bigotry, and no recourse to counter it at that time.

    Fast forward to today, and we now have the freedom to marry, a freedom I never thought I’d live to see. Yes, there is much work to be done, still. But, we’ve come SUCH a long way, and this is a truly historic day here in America.

    • Ugh happy tears. So many people have struggled long such as yourself. The struggle continues but at least today we know it’s not all in vain. I love your comment, thank you for sharing<3

      • Thank you for reading! I’m 34 now and (obviously lol) on my own. The opinions of my shallow family no longer matter. I came home to SC in Feb 2014 from NY after my dad’s stroke and my grandma was in rehab for dementia…but I am now planning a move to Portland, Oregon when my lease is up early next year.

        So, even though I am single, this is a very happy time. This ruling just makes it even better. Thanks again. 🙂

        • You say obviously, yet somehow I did not process the date in your username haha! I’m glad you’ve reached this point of self-love, where family can’t tear you down anymore. My condolences about their health issues, though. Portland sounds like an exciting place to be! I hope you have many adventures. 😀

          I am glad it is a happy time for so many. No problem!

  36. I’m not even a big Lady Gaga fan, but her song “Born This Way” is super resonating with my feels today.
    As I’ve posted in the open thread, today is very surreal. Same sex marriage…across the entirety of the US? This is fucking amazing. It is always nice to reach milestones in queer equality. Yes, there is so so so much more to do. But damn at least we know we’re making some sort of progress.
    Guys, this day has got me in such a self-loving mood. I might come out to my family today so UM. WISH ME LUCK IF I DON’T CHICKEN OUT.
    Love you all~

  37. Wow. It’s such a weird feeling. I don’t even know how to process it.

    It’s like the part of my brain that’s devoted to being a queer woman is like yaaaaaay you can get married now!

    And the part of my brain that’s devoted to being a trans woman is like but wait. . . . you can still get fired in like, thirty-six states for being trans. . . .

    And both of these responses are happening in my brain simultaneously and I don’t know how to reconcile them.

    I think I’m gonna go lie down. . .

  38. I have to work this eve so I won’t be able to go out and celebrate National Marriage Equality *GRIN* I love saying that out loud :^DDD NATIONAL MARRIAGE EQUALITYYYYYY but I did have something cute just happen.

    I’m visibly queer and this person I didn’t know in lab gave me the Queer Nod and she had this extra happy smile on her face. Took me a minute to register, but then I realized it was because this is an extra-great day for the Queer Nod, like we both did a little shared moment of celebration. 🙂

    NATIONAL MARRIAGE EQUALITYYYY! *sparkles* *cupcakes* *unicorns*

  39. I am so fucking proud for you guys!!! Welcome to the 21st century! I probably wouldn’t of found out until after work today, but I accidentally clicked over to a news channel before leaving the house. I’ve been crazy happy ever since.

    Congratulations, America! ♥

  40. My spotty internet connection cannot handle the flood of positivity on my FB wall. So my mac keeps giving me the spinning rainbow pinwheel.

    But seriously. This is giving me the courage to actually come out to my family and loved ones. Things are okay in this world and my heart is soaring.

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