Sunday, 28 June 2015

Gay marriage legalised across US

Same-sex marriage legalised across US
Supreme Court ruling marks historic triumph for gay rights movement
The Straits Times, 27 Jun 2015

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the United States Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry in a historic triumph for the American gay rights movement.

The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states.

The ruling marked the third big victory this week for President Barack Obama, whose administration supports gay marriages.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld by 6-3 Mr Obama's healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, by rejecting a conservative legal challenge.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 60 to 38 to grant Mr Obama "fast-track" power to negotiate trade deals and speed them through Congress. That could propel the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership over the finish line.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right".

Mr Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court's four liberal justices.

In a dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said the ruling "says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court".

The ruling is the Supreme Court's most important expansion of marriage rights in the US since its landmark 1967 ruling in the case Loving v Virginia that struck down state laws barring interracial marriages.

The decision follows rapid changes in attitudes and policies towards gay marriage in America.

The Supreme Court's ruling came in a consolidated case pulling together challenges filed by same-sex couples to gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Opponents say same-sex marriage legality should be decided by states, not judges.

Some opponents argue it is an affront to traditional marriage between a man and a woman and that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

The emotions of the issue were apparent during the court's April 28 oral arguments in the case when a protester in the courtroom shouted at the justices that they would "burn in hell" if they backed gay marriage.



Final paragraph of historic decision goes viral online

The Sunday Times, 28 Jun 2015

Washington - The Supreme Court's four more liberal justices joined Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the majority in the historic decision to legalise gay rights in the United States. The court voted 5-4 in the ruling.

The single final paragraph of Justice Kennedy's ruling went viral online, racking up shares on social networks across the world.

He wrote: "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered."

Each member of the court's conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn.

Friday's decision made same-sex marriage a reality in the 13 states that had continued to ban it.

The ruling reflected an astonishing shift in public sentiment around same-sex marriage, which now has majority - though hardly universal - support.

More than half of Americans, or 54 per cent, believe that there should be a federal law regarding same-sex marriages in all 50 states, and 57 per cent of them support legalising it, according to a New York Times/ CBS News Poll that was published last week.

New York Times

Rush to wed after US ruling on gay marriage

But resistance remains in areas in the Deep South, reflecting deep divisions in country
The Sunday Times, 28 Jun 2015

Washington - In Detroit, Atlanta and Austin, Texas, same-sex couples rushed to courthouses to get married. Here in the nation's capital, people wiped away tears as a gay men's chorus sang The Star-Spangled Banner on the marble steps of the Supreme Court. In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley presided over a public same-sex wedding ceremony, as a guitarist played acoustic melodies near a fountain in a downtown square.

But within hours of the Supreme Court's historic decision on Friday to grant a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, there was confusion, delay and denunciation in some of the most conservative pockets of the Deep South, reflecting the deep divisions in the country over whether gay people should be able to legally wed.

The fiercest resistance appeared to come in Louisiana, where Attorney-General James Caldwell said the ruling "overturns the will of the people". State and federal officials there cited a legal technicality that, they said, could permit them to delay issuing same-sex marriage licences for as long as 25 days, disappointing couples who tried to apply.

And in Alabama, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has led the charge against same-sex marriage in the state, compared Friday's decision to wrongly decided cases, including the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, which held that African-Americans could not be citizens. He said he would continue to press for an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

"I believe that would be what it takes to overcome this errant Supreme Court," he said, adding: "There's got to be some way to draw them back to reality."

Not one of the candidates running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination next year supports allowing same-sex couples to marry and observers say the clash over the issue seems likely to smoulder into the 2016 primary season.

The front runner for the Democratic nomination, Mrs Hillary Clinton, issued a statement calling the court's decision "an affirmation of the commitment of couples across the country who love one another".

In remarks in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama also welcomed it, saying it "affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts".

"Today," he said, "we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect."

The ruling overturned same-sex marriage bans in 13 states, and gay Americans broke out in joyous celebration, holding rallies, street parties, champagne toasts and instant weddings.

"It took 22 years to get this," said Ms Gina Dawson, 48, beaming as she and her long-time partner, Ms Charlotte Rutherford, 53, left the Travis County clerk's office in Austin, Texas, clutching their marriage licence. As they waited on Friday morning for the clerk's office to open, she said: "We sat in the parking lot and cried."

News of the decision rocketed around social media, with 3.8 million people in the United States making 10.1 million related likes, posts, comments and shares on Facebook. In the four hours after the decision, Twitter recorded more than 6.2 million messages about the ruling.

Corporate websites also took note. Delta splashed a rainbow flag across its landing page, with the tag line "Marriage Takes Flight" and Uber put little rainbow flags on the backs of cars on the main page of its ride-sharing app. Citi, which sponsors New York City's bike-share programme, put rainbows on its bicycles, dubbing the program #RideWithPride.

New York Times

“Yeah, of course gay men and women can get married. Who gives a shit?”
Posted by The Onion on Friday, June 26, 2015

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