Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Legal Nationwide ; HISTORY-CHANGING MOMENT; Dissenters Accuse Colleagues of Usurping Power of Voters

By Sherman, Mark | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), June 27, 2015 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Legal Nationwide ; HISTORY-CHANGING MOMENT; Dissenters Accuse Colleagues of Usurping Power of Voters


Sherman, Mark, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


INSIDE:

W.Va. officials react to ruling

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Scalias dissent more scornful than usual

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WASHINGTON - Same-sex couples nationwide won the right to marry Friday as a divided U.S. Supreme Court handed a crowning victory to the gay rights movement, setting off a jubilant cascade of long- delayed weddings in states where they had been forbidden. "No longer may this liberty be denied, said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The vote was narrow - 5-4 - but Kennedy's majority opinion was clear and firm: "The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.

The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation's social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.

Kennedy's reading of the ruling elicited tears in the courtroom, euphoria outside and the immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in at least eight states. In Dallas, Kenneth Denson said he and Gabriel Mendez had been legally married in 2013 in California but, "We're Texans; we want to get married in Texas.

In praise of the decision, President Obama called it "justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

Four of the court's justices weren't cheering. The dissenters accused their colleagues of usurping power that belongs to the states and to voters and of short-circuiting a national debate about same-sex marriage.

"This court is not a legislature, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.

"If you are among the many Americans - of whatever sexual orientation - who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision, Roberts said. "But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage as "this court's threat to American democracy. He termed the decision a "judicial putsch. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented. …

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