The Most Gorgeous, Powerful Passages From Kennedy’s Marriage Equality Decision

Slate, By Mark Joseph Stern, 26.6.2015.


If there were any lingering doubt that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy didn’t fully grasp the struggle gay Americans have faced—the pain, rejection, and hardship they suffered on the path to equality—he dispensed with it on Friday. Kennedy’s majority opinion speaks beautifully to the power of marriage as an institution. But it also delves into the power that marriage has on gay people: the way it can legitimize and ennoble the union of two people in love, even when much of the world labels them as sick.

Early on, Kennedy describes the pain and uncertainty that gay couples unable to marry—and their children—regularly experience:

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Kennedy also explains how gay couples are harmed and demeaned when they are barred from marriage:


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In fact, same-sex marriage bans diminish gay people’s personhood:

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And impose a serious disability on them:


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Then, of course, Kennedy closes with the passage by which, in a century, he may be best remembered:

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This is the gay rights opinion so much of America has been waiting for.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.