Many Americans in Pennsylvania and other states rejoiced on June 26 as the ban on same-sex marriage was held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling. Justice Anthony Kennedy made the announcement that gay and lesbian couples are granted equal rights and protection under the law.
The ruling in this case would have had a national impact either way as the federal court rulings to lift gay marriage bans in 20 states could have been in jeopardy if the Supreme Court upheld the bans in Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. Thousands of couples have already married as 70 percent of Americans live in states where gay marriage was legal, but these marriages must now be recognized as legal even if a couple moves to another state.
In states where gay marriage was banned, couples were eager to gain the marriage licenses they had been denied. Michigan is one state that began issuing marriages licenses immediately after the decision was made, and one county clerk reported that she could not imagine making these couples wait any longer. The Supreme Court heard six consolidated cases from the states where gay marriage bans were upheld, and supporters of marriage equality argued that any two people had a fundamental right to marry under the due process and equal protection clauses found in the Constitution.
While this ruling is a step in the right direction for all same-sex couples who seek equal protection under the law, this unfortunately does not mean that the struggles some face are over. Any kind of nontraditional family could face challenges when trying to adopt a child or secure child custody. Those who are in this position may want to obtain the guidance of a family law attorney.