Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage; Governor Walker and other legislators react

In a historic development for gay rights and the institution of marriage, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.

Specifically, the 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges declares that the 14th Amendment requires all states to perform same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The ruling extends marriage rights to gay couples in the 14 remaining states where same-sex marriage was previously prohibited. It also validates lower-court rulings in 20 states where marriage bans were struck down by federal judges.

The recent series of court rulings striking down marriage bans, culminating with this Supreme Court ruling, reflects a growing national acceptance of same-sex marriage. A February CBS News poll showed that 60 percent of Americans said it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry. More than half, 56 percent, said same-sex marriage should be left up to the states, though support for that position dropped eight points from a year earlier.

By protecting same-sex marriage nationally, the court is ensuring that same-sex couples are entitled to same state benefits that all married couples receive, in every state. In the Obergefell v. Hodges case, plaintiff Jim Obergefell was specifically seeking the right to be listed on his husband's death certificate. Obergefell and his longtime partner John Arthur were legally married in Maryland in 2013, when Arthur was terminally ill. However, since their home state of Ohio did not recognize same-sex marriages, the state refused Obergefell's request to be listed on Arthur's death certificate.

When CBS News' Jan Crawford asked Obergefellearlier this year what Arthur would think of the ongoing legal battle, Obergefell said, \"I think -- I know -- he's proud. I know he would thank me for living up to my promises to him, for living up to my marriage vows to fight for him, to love him, to honor him and to protect him.\"

Governor Scott Walker tweeted this response, \"I believe SCOTUS' decision is a grave mistake. 5 unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage.\"

“Today we join same sex couples, their families and our allies across the country in celebrating this victory,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Every loving and committed couple in the U.S. can now enjoy the freedom to marry, protect their loved ones, and have their commitment honored by our legal system.”

Governor Walker today issued the following comment on the Supreme Court's marriage decision:

“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.' In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas. As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage. Recognizing that our Founders made our Constitution difficult to amend, I am reminded that it was first amended to protect our ‘First Freedom' - the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow ‘right to worship,' but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs. In fact, the Wisconsin constitution explicitly protects the rights of conscience of our citizens. I can assure all Wisconsinites concerned about the impact of today's decision that your conscience rights will be protected, and the government will not coerce you to act against your religious beliefs. I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience. We will continue to fight for the freedoms of all Americans.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said:

“This is an historic end to Pride Month and an incredible bookend to what happened one year ago when we celebrated history at the Milwaukee County Courthouse as same sex couples of all ages, races, and religions said ‘I do.' Today's ruling is another step forward for love and equality,” County Executive Abele said. “While I am extremely thrilled with the ruling, I will continue to do what I've been doing for more than 20 years - fight for equality and the fair treatment of all people. Across Milwaukee County government we remain focused on fostering an inclusive and diverse culture, where every employee is accepted, valued, respected, and treated fairly.”

Rep.Chris Taylor (D-Madison) issued the following statement:

“I am absolutely elated by the Supreme Court's decision to finally recognize the basic, fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry. Love is love, regardless of a person's gender, sexual orientation, race, social or economic status. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision has been a long time coming for families and children throughout our country. Now, committed couples can marry regardless of what state they live in, and those who have married have the legal certainly their union will be recognized. This is a day of celebration for us all, but especially for the children whose parents now are legally recognized.

“Unfortunately, here in Wisconsin, one Republican lawmaker who opposes marriage equality is already mobilizing against Wisconsin's Domestic Partnership Law, threatening to eliminate it in the state budget. It's time Republicans stop the politics of division and recognize that despite their efforts, all adults are entitled to marry the person they love.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) issued the following statement:

“This decision by the Supreme Court marks a truly historic day for our country. As the debate for marriage equality in America comes to an end, I am proud to say that dignity and love have won. As a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I am delighted to celebrate this great victory with our nation's LGBT brothers and sisters.

\"As we commemorate this joyous occasion, let us also recognize that discrimination and intolerance still exist and that our fight for equality will continue until we've secured full and equal protections for all LGBT Americans.\"

Senator Mark Miller Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality by saying,“Finally.”

Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson released the following statement on today's U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirms marriage equality for all nationwide:

“Today, love wins once again nationwide for all Americans. The right to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone. All of our neighbors should have the opportunity to live their lives freely and happily with equal protection under the law.

“While Gov. Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have, in the past, time and again callously fought to deny marriage equality in our state, Wisconsin Democrats have been proud to join people across Wisconsin and all around the nation, standing tall in the face of continued moral injustice.

“With today's decision, ideological forces nationwide will no longer be able to promote inequality, foster discrimination, or unconstitutionally limit our rights and freedoms over who we choose to marry. The Supreme Court's decision says equality, fairness, and the freedom to love and marry whomever you want is guaranteed to all Americans. This is a victory for our nation's morality and supports the shared values our nation was founded on. Today, is truly a day to celebrate and one that will be remembered as a day of justice for the rest of our nation's history.”

Archbishop Listecki Responds to Legalization of Gay Marriage:

“Today is a sad day for the sacrament of marriage, when the United States Supreme Court redefines marriage to be something other than what God created.

Marriage is between one man and one woman. This decision doesn't change the Catholic Church's teaching about the sanctity of this sacrament and the natural bond of marriage that is the very foundation of society.

We are a Church founded on the loving relationship of God and the Catholic Church upholds that every person is created in the image and likeness of God with immeasurable dignity and worth.

The Church opposes any and all harassment, violence and unjust treatment of any person, including those with same sex attraction.”

Jason Rae, executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement:

“Today love won. Not only did the US Supreme Court affirm the right of all of people to marry who they love, the Court also paved the way to help strengthen our nation's economy. At the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, we are incredibly excited about the economic impact that this decision will have for our members, for our state, and for our nation's economy as a whole. The immediate benefits of marriage equality provide millions of dollars of stimulus to local businesses, but the short-term benefits do not even begin to tell the whole story. These new marriages create families in Wisconsin, and now the entire country, that will have a lasting, observable impact on our economy. The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber was proud to file an amicus curiae in the Obergefell v. Hodges case discussing how marriage equality would positively impact the business community. We heard from our business members that the patchwork of inconsistent state marriage laws made it harder and more costly for them to recruit and retain talented employees, and to administer benefits systems. Quite simply, this burdened businesses by costing them both time and money. Today's decision helps eliminate that burden on businesses and makes it easier for companies to recruit and retain diverse talent. As Wisconsin's LGBT families continue to grow and prosper, so too will our state economy. We know that this decision today will translate into a positive force for our economy and local businesses.“

 Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released the following statement:

“Today's Supreme Court ruling represents a historic victory for millions of couples across the country who have waited years or even decades to enjoy the freedom to marry. One of our nation's founding principles is that all are created equal, and I am pleased to see that principle upheld today by the highest court in the land. I also want to thank all the individuals and organizations who have worked so hard for so long to advance this cause and make this ruling possible. This is a truly monumental day for these loving couples and for everyone who believes in basic freedom for our citizens and equal protection under the law.\"

Representative Ron Kind released the below statement:

“This is another step forward to ensure fairness and equality under the law for all citizens. Throughout my 20-year marriage to Tawni, I've learned that our love and support for each other makes both of us stronger. Now every legally married couple will have the comfort of knowing their unions will be treated equally under the law, regardless of where they live.”

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released this statement:

“Love is love, family is family, and discriminating against anyone's love, against anyone's family, is simply wrong. America can proudly say that discrimination doesn't just violate our values – it violates our Constitution. And now we can proudly say that marriage equality will be the law of the land.

“Today's ruling by the United States Supreme Court is a huge victory for freedom, fairness and equality in America. This is a historic step forward for America, where every family's love and commitment will now be recognized and respected under the law. This reaffirms our nation's founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. It's about fairness – about whether gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated just like their family members, their friends, and their neighbors. It's about opportunity – about whether every American gets to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success. And it's about freedom – the freedom to love, the freedom to commit, and the freedom to build a family.

“I believe America is ready to take the next step forward and there is more work to be done to advance the cause of equality in America. I remain committed to continuing this march of progress with a growing number of Americans to pass on to the next generation a nation that realizes the promise of full equality for every American.”

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