On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that all states must now honor same-sex marriage, an historic ruling in the United States of America. Same-sex marriage has proven a contentious debate in the U.S., further widening the divide between blue and red states. Thankfully, that debate has now been rendered legally obsolete — and couples can take solace in the fact that same-sex marriage is no longer just a region-specific possibility.

During President Barack Obama's address shortly after the announcement of the ruling, the longtime LGBT supporter praised those who fought for marriage equality on the long road to justice. "Progress on this journey often comes in small increments," Obama said. "[But] sometimes there are days like this when that slow [and] steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt." Deeming the ruling a victory for America, Obama spoke positively of its impact on the future of equality. "When all Americans are treated as equal," Obama said, "we are all more free. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible. For all our differences, we are one people."

The full text of the ruling, excerpted below, is available here:

The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.

This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes. Questions about the legal treatment of gays and lesbians soon reached the courts, where they could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law. In 2003, this Court overruled its 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U. S. 186, which upheld a Georgia law that criminalized certain homosexual acts, concluding laws making same-sex intimacy a crime “demea[n] the lives of homosexual persons.

Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples. The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.

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