In a historic decision, the US Supreme Court ruled on 26 June that LGBT couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. The landmark 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges prompted reactions from President Barack Obama, several Republican presidential candidates, as well as religious groups.
Writing for the majority in the decision, Justice Anthony M Kennedy said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry. "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family," Kennedy wrote. "In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were."
Meanwhile, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a scathing dissent about the decision. "The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,' I would hide my head in a bag," he wrote. "The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."
President Obama first reacted on Twitter, writing, "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". He later made some welcoming remarks in the Rose Garden, the New York Times reported. "Today," the president said, "we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect."
The First Lady also shared her thoughts on social media, tweeting, "This decision recognizes the fundamental truth that our love is all equal. Today is a great day for America. #LoveWins".
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also applauded the decision, sharing several photos of support on her social media accounts. "From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, the courage and determination of the LGBT community has changed hearts and changed laws," Clinton wrote.
Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates were not as supportive of the court's landmark ruling. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said he supports traditional marriage and believes the Supreme Court should have allowed states to decision.
"Guided by my faith, I believe in tradition marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," Bush said. "I also believe that we should love our neighbour and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."
Other candidates were not as forgiving of the ruling. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said he would not "acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch".
Huckabee continued, "This ruling is not about marriage equality, it's about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."
Some religious groups celebrate the ruling extending marriage rights to LGBT couples in the US, including the American Jewish Committee. In a tweet adorned with a heart emoticon in rainbow colours, the group said, "For 109 years, AJC has stood for liberty and human rights. Today is a happy day for that proud tradition #LoveWins."
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 13 Jewish groups were among the 25 that joined the amicus brief the Anti-Defamation League filed in the case. Among the 12 other groups were the Hindu American Foundation, the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Presbyterian Welcome.
In Israel, Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon tweeted his support.
"The Supreme Court of the United States made an important, just and historic decision today," Ya'alon tweeted. "Every person has the right to marry and have children, regardless of their sexual orientation. I hope additional countries, including Israel, will follow in the footsteps of the United States and grant this basic right to all."
On the other hand, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz criticised the courts decision. "Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable," Kurtz said in a statement. "It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage."