WASHINGTON (CNN) – In a landmark opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, handing gay rights advocates their biggest victory yet.
The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority, with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.
The relevant cases were argued earlier this year. Attorney John Bursch, serving as Michigan’s Special Assistant Attorney General, defended four states’ bans on gay marriage before the Court, arguing that the case was not about how to define marriage, but rather about who gets to decide the question.
The case comes before the Supreme Court after several lower courts have overturned state bans on gay marriage. A federal appeals court had previously ruled in favor of the state bans, with Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals writing a majority opinion in line with the rationale that the issue should be decided through the political process, not the courts.
Fourteen couples and two widowers challenged the bans. Attorneys Mary Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier presented their case before the Court, arguing that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right for all people and should not be left to popular vote.
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