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US legalises same-sex marriage, India has a long way to go

The US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage for Americans on Friday and said couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2015 22:36 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
US,Supreme Court,Same-sex marriage

The United State on Friday joined a small but growing community of nation to legalize same-sex marriage, granting it every traditional marital right and freedom.

But unlike other countries, who got there either through a countrywide referendum as Ireland, or parliamentary action, the US made the leap riding its Supreme Court.

The apex court ruled by a 5-4 majority that the American constitution guarantees nationwide rights to same-sex marriages, making it legal in all 50 states now.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” wrote Justice Anthony M Kennedy for the majority opinion, adding, “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Referring to same-sex couples who appealed to the court against the ban in some states, the judge said, “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to 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.”

Same-sex was legal in 36 states, and now in the remaining 14.

Gay and lesbian activists who stood outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of a ruling, which was expected any day, hugged, danced and cheered the court’s decision.

India has a long way to go on this issue. Homosexuality is still a crime, after the Supreme Court in 2013 overturned a high court order decriminalizing it. Marriage is quite another matter.

In Britain, whose colonial dispensation left India with a law criminalizing homosexuality, same-sex marriage became legal in 2013, for unions outside the Church of England.

Same-sex marriage was legal in 20 countries till Friday, according to a fact sheet prepared by Pew Research Center. Now, it’s 21, with the United States.

The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The tweet was hash-tagged #LoveWins.

While the outlier states remained steadfastly opposed to same-sex marriage, mostly those rule by conservatives, the Republican Party, public opinion was changing swiftly.

But it a conservative judge on the highly politicized and ideologically riven Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy, who swung the decision, making same-sex marriage legal.

First Published: Jun 26, 2015 19:53 IST