Supreme Court extends same-sex marriage nationwide
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court declared Friday morning same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.
Gay and lesbian couples can already marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.
Missouri Attornery General Chris Koster said Friday, "The history of our country has always been one of moving toward inclusion and equality. I applaud the court for their courage and strong sense of fairness. Missourians should be seen as equals under the law; regardless of their gender, race, or whom they love."
Joe Ortwerth with the non-profit Missouri Family Policy Council said, "The Supreme Court's decision today to mandate so-called same-sex 'marriage' on all 50 states is a reckless ruling that will have a devastating impact on the future of our nation. This abusive ruling conveys sneering contempt for Missouri voters, as well as citizens in countless other states who voted overwhelmingly to preserve the institution of marriage in their state constitutions."
The Missouri Family Policy Council is an organization "dedicated to promoting Biblical principles in our government and Judeo-Christian values in our culture", according to its website.
The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.
A 2004 Missouri constitutional amendment banned same-sex marriage, a measure that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in Nov. 2014. At that time, Attorney General Koster said he would appeal the ruling, citing a defense of Missouri's right to define marriage.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about Missouri's same-sex marriage ban and comments from Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and Joe Ortwerth.]