Supreme Court: Constitution gives same-sex couples right to marry

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry. (Tweet This)

The Court ruled 5-to-4, with Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissenting. All four dissenting Justices wrote their own separate dissents.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, thought to be the swing vote on the ruling, authored the majority’s opinion.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. … [The challengers] ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” the opinion said.

“The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest,” the majority added.

Roberts, the Court’s Chief Justice, wrote the principal dissent.

“If you are among the many Americans–of whatever sexual orientation–who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it,” Roberts said.

In his dissent, Scalia said the ruling is a “threat to American democracy,” adding that “Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall … With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly not based on law, but on the ‘reasoned judgment’ of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer of our impotence.”

Shortly after the ruling’s release, United Airlines praised the Court, saying the ruling “is a long-awaited victory for all those who chose to take a stand for marriage equality.”

“The business community was really way ahead of our political institutions on this for years and years, recognizing that for America to be great, we don’t have people to waste and we have to let everyone participate and everybody play. And the business community really led the way and continues to in many of the states where we still see discrimination, where we see backlash and anti-gay laws,” Sean Patrick Maloney, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a CNBC “Squawk on the Street.”

American Airlines also applauded the Court for finding in favor of same-sex marriage. “This is a historic moment for our country and for many of American’s employees,” Doug Parker, the airline’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Today’s decision reaffirms the commitment of companies like American that recognize equality is good for business and society as a whole.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also praised the ruling.


However, Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential hopeful, said in a statement he believes the Court should have allowed states to make the decision on their own.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee’s chairman, also said in a statement that “The Supreme Court failed to recognize the states’ constitutional role in setting marriage policy, instead finding a federal role where there is none. In doing so, they have taken power away from the states and from the people to settle the relevant issues for themselves”

“Even though the Supreme Court has spoken with finality, there remains a diversity of opinions about marriage policy—from those celebrating today’s ruling to those concerned about the constitutional balance of power,” he added.

President Obama is scheduled to speak on the matter at 11 a.m. ET. will be streaming his speech live.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

The Supreme Court said in January it would be ruling on the matter and that it would decide two questions: Whether states must allows same-sex couples to marry and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages that take place out-of-state.

The issue had deeply divided the Court’s justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy remained as the one swing vote on the matter.

According to the New York Times, Kennedy said he was concerned about changing the country’s conception of marriage after so many years. However, he also said he was concerned about excluding gay families from the institution of marriage.

The ruling also has financial implications for same-sex couples.

Married opposite-sex couples enjoy plenty of Social Security benefits, such as spousal and survivor benefits, which aren’t currently available to married same-sex couples in the 13 states where gay marriage is illegal. A favorable decision will mean that married same-sex couples in those states could apply for spousal and survivor benefits just like married opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.

—CNBC’s Tom Anderson and Reuters contributed to this report.

For more on the ruling, click here.