Same-sex marriage a national right, high court rules
WASHINGTON _ The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a national right on Friday with a landmark ruling that sealed the nation’s rapid shift toward acceptance of unions that were banned in most states just last year.
In its 5-4 decision, the court extended the 14th Amendment guarantees of equal protection and due process to same-sex couples. The ruling came on cases from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan but effectively struck down state constitutional provisions and statutes around the country that prohibited same-sex marriage.
The court also ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The high court’s decision came just two years after justices struck down a federal law that prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
That same year, the court declined to rule on a California case that would have settled the question of whether states could ban same-sex marriages.
But the decision in the federal case - which struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act - spurred federal judges around the country to rule that state bans were unconstitutional.
In Oklahoma, Judge Terence Kern struck down the 2004 state constitutional ban just a month after a federal judge had done the same thing in Utah.
Lower court rulings around the country were mostly upheld by federal appeals court. In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases from Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Utah, effectively making same-sex marriage legal in several states.
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