Residents applaud ruling on same-sex marriage

GREENFIELD — Local same-sex marriage proponents rejoiced Friday after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Indiana has allowed same-sex couples to marry since last year, when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the ruling.

Still, local residents said the ruling is a huge victory for gay rights supporters across the nation.

Same-sex couples already could marry in 36 states. Friday’s decision means the remaining 14 states will no longer be able to enforce their bans on same-sex marriage.

Greenfield resident Chad Holden said the Supreme Court’s ruling was welcome news, adding it’s important everyone has equal rights, no matter their sexuality.

“My best friend is gay, and I feel like if this is the way they want to live their life, they should be able to,” he said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the ruling’s majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions.

“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.

The stories of the people asking for the right to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond,” Kennedy said.

John Cary, owner of Hey Cafe in downtown Greenfield, said he was overjoyed to hear the news Friday. The decision makes his upcoming wedding to his partner more special, he said.

“Today is a great day,” Cary said. “It’s about time marriage is equal for everyone, everywhere.”

Andrew Maciel of Greenfield said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling. He said he hopes it will lead to a happier life for same-sex couples across the country.

“Gay people are people, too, and they should have the same rights as everyone else,” Maciel said.

While some states reported same-sex couples flocking to courthouses for marriage licenses, locally, the Hancock County Courthouse hadn’t had any couples apply for marriage licenses by Friday afternoon.

President Barack Obama praised the decision as “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.” He said it was an affirmation of the principle that “all Americans are created equal.”

The four dissenting justices each filed a separate opinion explaining their views, but they all agreed that states and their voters should have been left with the power to decide who can marry.

“This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice.

“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means, celebrate today’s decision,” Roberts said. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage but about “this court’s threat to American democracy.” Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.

Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling but added his administration would continue to uphold the law.

“Like many Hoosiers, I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the historic role of the states in setting marriage policy in this country,” he said. “Under our system of government, our citizens are free to disagree with decisions of the Supreme Court, but we are not free to disobey them.”

Kennedy said nothing in the court’s ruling would force religions to condone, much less perform, weddings to which they object.

The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration.

The cases before the court involved laws from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders and they also have refused to recognize valid marriages from elsewhere.

The states impacted by the ruling are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor formed the majority with Kennedy on Friday, the same lineup as two years ago.

The earlier decision in United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

The number of states allowing same-sex marriage has grown rapidly. As recently as last October, more than one third of the states permitted it.

The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights, and Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.