Gay marriage legalised nationwide in US: 5 things to know about the historic ruling

A child looks at people celebrating the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage during a rally outside the Stonewall Tavern in the West Village in New York on June 26, 2015. The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, that gay marriage i
A child looks at people celebrating the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage during a rally outside the Stonewall Tavern in the West Village in New York on June 26, 2015. The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation.PHOTO: AFP

The US Supreme Court legalised on Friday (June 26) same-sex marriage across all 50 states, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.

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.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his 28-page ruling, said gay people "ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

US President Barack Obama said on Twitter,"Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else."

Front runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination Hillary Clinton tweeted that she was "proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality."

Here are five things to know about the historic ruling:

Massachusetts first to say "I do"

Massachusetts was the first US state to legalise gay marriage on May 17, 2004. At the stroke of midnight, thousands cheered as marriage license applications were issued to gay and lesbian couples. Lesbian couple Marcia Hams and Susan Shepherd were the first in line to apply for a marriage license.

Jim Obergefell was part of historic gay marriage ruling

The main plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court ruling was real estate broker Jim Obergefell, who filed the case in 2013 after learning that his name could not appear on the death certificate of his late husband, John Arthur.

The couple was married in Maryland as their home state Ohio banned same-sex marriage.

Moments after the Supreme Court ruling, Obergefell got a call from President Obama himself, congratulating him and thanking him for his efforts.

Financial win for same-sex couples

With nationwide recognition of gay marriages, same-sex couples will be eligible for the Social Security survivor benefit which a spouse receives when the other dies, among other benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy. Similiarly, when one spouse dies, the other has legal rights to his or her inheritance.

Swift reactions from Republican presidential candidates

While Democratic candidates hailed the decision, some Republicans were less supportive.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said the Supreme Court should have left the decision to the states.

"In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate," Bush said in a statement.

Another candidate Mike Huckabee said in a statement: "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."

Celebrities and brands celebrate the rainbow union

Many Hollywood celebrities were ecstatic over the gay marriage ruling. They took to social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to show their support.

TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who is married to actress Portia de Rossi, wrote "Love won. #MarriageEquality" on Twitter.

Well-known American fashion designer Marc Jacobs captioned a selfie on Instgram noting "Seems I'm always a bridesmaid and never a bride! Still, my heart is huge with this great news!! We can love who we want and how we want!!!"

Sources: CNN, USA Today, The New York Times

kchitra@sph.com.sg