A divided Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages are constitutional and will be legally recognized nationwide Friday morning.
Gay marriage bans have rapidly disappeared in recent years. Prior to Friday’s ruling, 37 states allowed gay marriages, including Florida.
In the case of Brenner v. Scott, a U.S. District Court found Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional on Aug. 21, 2014. As a result, same-sex marriage became legal in Florida on Jan. 6, 2015. Prior to that decision, same-sex couples could only be legally recognized as domestic partnerships in some Florida localities.
Hundreds of Americans gathered outside of the Court to celebrate the ruling. The crowd of supporters waved flags and banners with the Human Rights Campaign's equal sign.
“The Court made it clear that every family in America must be treated the same under our laws. In years to come, people will look back on this day as one when our nation took a major step forward in the ongoing march for civil rights, equality, and the exercise of the values enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution,” said fourth-year political science student at Florida A&M University, Rashod Woods of Miami.
The closely divided ruling will serve as a landmark decision in the 226-year history of the Supreme Court. "Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins," President Obama stated via Twitter.
States are expected to see a surge in the number of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses within the coming days. However, while the Supreme Court majority has spoken for the country, there are still some Americans with mixed feelings about the ruling, such as fourth year business student at FAMU, SaQuoya Stokes of Ft. Lauderdale.
“I do not agree with the decision at all because of my religious beliefs. However, I do not want my disagreement to be confused with distaste or judgment to those who are apart of the LGBTQ community. I just firmly believe that marriage is a covenant that should be shared between man and wife as outlined in [the Bible] Genesis 2: 18-25,” said Stokes.
Fourth-year English student and Miami native, Janae Lattery, also expressed how her beliefs conflict with those of the Court’s, but has chosen to remain indifferent.
“I’ve never been for or against same-sex marriages. I've always been torn [when] believing that people should do what makes them happy [because] that also contradicts what I believe as a follower of Christ,” Lattery stated. “However, I am aware that not everyone is a Christian. This isn't affecting me in any shape, form or fashion so I'm not angry by it. I just want the rest of the world to respect this decision. If you have nothing positive to say then don't bash someone for [his or her] preference,” Lattery continued.
The United States is now the 21ST country to legalize same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples will now be extended the same rights and benefits pertaining to marriages everywhere. However, Vice President emeritus of the FAMU LGBTQ Student Pride Organization, Caley Plaskon of Orlando, Fla., believes that the battle for LGBTQ equality is long from won.
“Marriage equality doesn’t mean total equality. We still have far to go,” Plaskon said.
Political Action Coordinator of Florida State University’s Pride Student Union, Melissa Mitchell, also believes that marriage equality was only one issue at the forefront of LGBTQ equal rights activism.
“The excitement [of the Supreme Court ruling] was very quickly followed by a feeling of urgency for what I find to be a much more pressing issue; transgender rights,” said Mitchell, a fourth-year social work student from Kissimmee. “The violence and injustice facing transgender [Americans], specifically transgender women of color, is an issue that has been kept [out of] the spotlight in the wake of funding and organizations targeted at [fighting for] marriage equality. I feel the next vital move is to redirect these funds and focus toward transgender equality.”
Both FAMU and FSU LGBTQ organizations have expressed that regardless of the ruling, they will continue to fight for equal rights of the entire LGBTQ community.