WASHINGTON (Web Desk/APP) - The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.
It means the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage will no longer be able to enforce them.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the plaintiffs asked "for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
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, the BBC reported.
With the landmark ruling, gay marriage becomes legal in all 50 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 officials in several states said they would respect the ruling.
'VICTORY FOR AMERICA'
President Barack Obama, appearing in the White House Rose Garden, hailed the ruling as a milestone in American justice that arrived "like a thunderbolt."
"This ruling is a victory for America," said Obama, the first sitting president to support gay marriage. "This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free."
As night fell, the White House was lit in rainbow colors - a symbol of gay pride - to mark the high court's decision.
The ruling, the culmination of a long legal fight by gay rights advocates, follows steady gains in public approval in recent years for same-sex marriage. In 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to legalise gay marriage. But the decision may provoke fresh legal fights in some conservative, Republican-governed states.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said the hope of gay people intending to marry "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."
"Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser," Kennedy wrote.
Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court's four liberal justices.
Appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988, Kennedy has now authored all four of the court's major gay rights rulings, with the first in 1996.
The ruling brings to an end more than a decade of bitter legal battles.
Same-sex couples in several affected states including Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Texas rushed to wed on Friday.
However officials in other states, including Mississippi and Louisiana, said marriages had to wait until procedural issues were addressed.
However, Christian conservatives condemned the decision.
Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called it "an out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny".
And Kellie Fiedorek, a lawyer for an anti-gay marriage advocacy group, said the decision "ignored the voices of thousands of Americans".
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, a state where marriages licences will now be issued to same-sex couples, said the justices "have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court's previous decisions reserve to the people of the states".
Loud cheers erupted outside the court after the ruling was announced, and there were tears, hugs, and cheers of "USA USA USA!".
A sea of rainbow flags overwhelmed the few anti-gay marriage activists who reacted in disbelief, and the demonstration seemed to turn into a street party.
One of the demonstrators, Jordan Monaghan, called his mother from his mobile phone amid the celebrations.
"Hey mom, I'm at the Supreme Court. Your son can have a husband now," Mr Monaghan said.
Minutes after the ruling, couples in one of the states that had a ban, Georgia, lined up in hope of being wed.
In Texas, Yasmin Menchaca and her partner Catherine Andrews told the BBC that they are "trying to round up our parents" in order to get married on Friday.
The two have been together for six years, and had attempted to marry in Washington state - but decided to wait because of the financial burden of flying their parents across the country.
On social media, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton merely tweeted the word "proud" and the White House changed its Twitter avatar into the rainbow colours.
The case considered by the court concerned Jim Obergefell, an Ohio resident who was not recognised as the legal widower of his late husband, John Arthur.
"It's my hope that gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, and from this day forward it will simply be 'marriage,'" an emotional Mr Obergefell said outside the court.
Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar and other currencies in the open market on February 22, 2024 (Thursday)
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.6 for buying and 282.4 for selling.
Euro comes down to 300.2 for buying and 303.2 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 350.6 for buying, and 354.1 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.2 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.45.
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