Supreme Court Extends Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide
WASHINGTON -- Today the justices of the Supreme Court forced gay marriage on all 50 states by a vote of 5-4.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the ruling.
"In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were," Kennedy wrote. "As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death."
"It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage," he continued. "Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves."
*Click play to watch more of our extensive coverage as Christian leaders react to the court's decision.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Anthony Scalia disagreed.
"It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage," he wrote. "It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me."
"Today's decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court," he continued.
"The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact-and the furthest extension one can even imagineof the court's claimed power to create 'liberties' that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention," he concluded.
Some are calling it a great victory for civil and human rights; others label it a travesty.
But it certainly led to moments of great emotion on the Supreme Court plaza as word spread through the mostly pro-gay crowd.
They cheered, chanted and sang as they won the right to same-sex marriage nationwide. As CBN News walked through the crowd moments after the ruling was announced, on all sides gays were expressing their feelings:
"Extreme happiness," one person said.
"I am so excited!" another exclaimed
"I'm feeling relief and joy," yet another person said.
Religious Liberty in Jeopardy?
No matter which side of the gay marriage controversy they're on, all at the court agreed Friday's decision is momentous.
But for Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, that meant the ruling will bring on dire consequences, especially for people whose belief in traditional marriage is rooted in their faith.
"If you put into the law that there's no difference between two men and two women or a man and a woman in marriage, and that those who believe otherwise are the equivalent of bigots, you can't look up and say, 'Hey, I didn't know that there would be consequences,'" Brown told CBN News.
"Of course there are going to be consequences," he continued. "And those consequences are using the law to punish individuals, churches and organizations that continue to stand for the truth."
CBN's founder Dr. Pat Robertson expressed disappointment with the court's decision.
Marriage from time immemorial has been a sacrament of the church. I think the Supreme Court erred in extending the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to force homosexual marriage on states that have clearly rejected the concept," Robertson said.
"I agree with Chief Justice Roberts that the Supreme Court is not a supra legislature, but this is what it has become while ignoring the clear tenets of constitutional law, he added.
Many faith leaders believe the Supreme Court ruling recognizing gay marriage will put religious liberty will be at risk.
In the weeks before the ruling came down, the Southern Baptist Convention partnered with the Alliance Defending Freedom to provide guidance for churches and other faith-based institutions called Protecting Your Ministry. CBN News interviewed Dr. Russell Moore about the booklet earlier this month. Watch our interview below.
Caleb Dalton of the Alliance Defending Freedom stated, "Today the Supreme Court supplanted the opinions of millions of Americans for its own opinion about what marriage should be."
And he warned it will only encourage those who've gone after religious opponents to gay marriage.
"This activist court by redefining marriage coming up with its own definition, something that's not included in the Constitution will have a profound impact on religious liberty in this country," he warned.
Out in front of the Court, CBN News asked Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, if gay activists and their religious opponents could now find any common ground to cool their animosity.
"We all have one thing in common, and that's love," she said. "We love our families, they love their families. We have love in common. And today's decision is about fairness and it's about turning a page for our country."
Since Carey as a gay leader could most likely actually help stop the targeting of Christian bakers, florists, wedding photographers and those who don't want to service gay weddings, CBN News asked if she'd consider a ceasefire now.
The answer was a pretty firm "no."
"We will continue to do work in this country to make sure that everyone's right to their own personal beliefs are protected," Carey said. "But that people actually do get to celebrate, that they get to choose who they want around them when they get married, that they get the cake they want, the flowers they want."
"Religion should not be used as a means to discriminate against others. It should be our own personal beliefs," she added.
But President Barack Obama pointed out many who oppose gay marriage do so out of deeply held beliefs.
"All of us who welcome today's news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints -- revere our deep commitment to religious freedom," he said.
A New Roe v. Wade?
Gay marriage supporters say the issue's settled. But traditional marriage supporters say court's ruling has ignited a new Roe v Wade and years of war over this issue are still ahead.
"It may takes decades, but we're going to overturn this decision," Brown vowed. "It's an illegitimate decision, and the reality is a new phase of the fight to protect marriage has begun."
"This is not the end," he reiterated. "This is like the passage of Roe. The pro-life movement has grown, not withered away."
Gay marriage is already legal in 36 states, including the District of Columbia. Friday's ruling means the remaining 14 states in the South and Midwest will have to put an end to gay marriage bans.