US Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court revoked a nation-wide ban on gay marriage on Friday by ruling that the U.S. Constitution offers same-sex couples the freedom to get married. The ruling marks the historic end to what many have been calling a weird, discriminatory and senseless law.

The ruling was close. Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 in favor of extending constitutional protection to gay couples in same-sex marriages. Now, same-sex couples in every state in the Union will enjoy the freedom to marry.

President Barack Obama has praised the decision, saying that the ruling is a milestone in the history of American justice and it has come "like a thunderbolt."

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 U.S. States

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 landmark ruling, gay marriage becomes legal in all 50 U.S. states.

Immediately after the decision, same-sex couples in many of the states where gay marriage had been banned headed to county clerks' offices for marriage licenses as state officials issued statements saying they would respect the ruling.

First President in History to Support Gay Marriage

Obama is the first U.S. president in history to lend his support to gay marriage. In a public statement he 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."

However, not all politicians are on board with the idea of giving homosexuals the right to enter marital contracts with one another. Indeed, the ruling could bring about new legal battles at the state level, spearheaded by states with a Republican majority in their governments.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is largely revered as the deciding vote in the effort to legalize gay marriage. Kennedy is a conservative, but in this civil rights case he joined with the Supreme Court's liberal justices. Kennedy wrote on behalf of the court that gay people wanting to get married should not "be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."