US Supreme Court votes to legalise gay marriage

The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalising gay marriage across the United States today, in a landmark decision for gay rights in America.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M Kennedy swung the 5-4 majority vote, which handed the historic victory to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in the United States. The ruling requires all states to legally recognize gay marriages and makes same-sex marriage a constitutional right, nullifying the marriage bans remaining in 14 states.

Also voting in favour of the ruling were Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas made up the opposition. Hearings on the legality of same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky were brought to the court in April of this year in a case known as Obergefell v Hodges. No decision was made at the time due to remaining questions among the justices regarding the constitutional grounds for gay marriage. Those questions were voted on today.

Same-sex marriage has gradually been legalised on a state-by-state basis in the US, beginning in 1996 with Massachusetts. The 14 states with remaining bans prior to today's ruling extended through the centre of the US from Texas and Louisiana to North Dakota as well as Michigan, Ohio and Georgia.

Celebrations commenced outside the court in Washington DC after the decision was announced and Twitter is being flooded with enthusiastic and excited tweets from supporters of the decision ahead of annual LGBT pride celebrations across America and around the world this weekend.

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, President Barack Obama said: "This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free."

Republican speaker of the house John Boehner's expressed his disappointed at the decision. "All human beings are created equal by God and thus deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect," he said in a statement. "I am, however, disappointed that the Supreme Court disregarded the democratically-enacted will of millions of Americans by forcing states to redefine the institution of marriage. My views are based on my upbringing and my faith. I believe that marriage is a sacred vow between one man and one woman, and I believe Americans should be able to live and work according to their beliefs."

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee railed against the decision and called for congress to act against the court's decision saying: "This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."

With the confederate flag being removed from state capitols across the south earlier in the week, American comedian Brad Williams tweeted:

The confederate flag is brought down and gay marriage is legal. It's Redneckageddon

— Brad Williams (@funnybrad) June 26, 2015