In the late 20th century, following substantial cultural and political developments, same-sex couples began to lead more open and public lives and to establish families. This development was followed by a quite extensive discussion of the issue in both governmental and private sectors and by a shift in public attitudes toward greater tolerance. As a result, questions about the rights of gays and lesbians soon reached the courts, where the issue could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law.
Indeed, recognizing that new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality within fundamental institutions that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged.
The identification and protection of fundamental rights is an enduring part of the judicial duty to interpret the Constitution. That responsibility, however, “has not been reduced to any formula.”
The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State. Since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.
The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
事實上，今次判決的基石是維護婚姻制度。判詞的結尾為：「沒有任何聯繫是比婚姻更深刻，因為它體現了愛情，忠誠，奉獻，犧牲和家庭的最高理想。把同性婚姻的鼓吹者說成不尊重婚姻是錯誤的。他們尊重如此之深，也希望結婚 ─ 這一最古老的制度。他們要求在法律面前平等的尊嚴。憲法賦予他們的權利。因此上訴第六巡迴法院的判決被推翻。
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. 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. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.
Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.
The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. This abiding connection between marriage and liberty is why Loving invalidated inter racial marriage bans under the Due Process Clause. Decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.
A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. The intimate association protected by this right was central to Griswold v Connecticut, which held the Constitution protects the right of married couples to use contraception, and was acknowledged in Turner, supra, at 95. Same-sex couples have the same right as opposite-sex couples to enjoy intimate association, a right extending beyond mere freedom from laws making same-sex intimacy a criminal offense.
A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. This does not mean that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate.
Finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order. States have contributed to the fundamental character of marriage by placing it at the center of many facets of the legal and social order. There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle, yet same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage and are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would find intolerable. It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation’s society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage.
美國最高法院的同性婚姻合法化在某種意義上，強化了美國核心價值 ─ 婚姻。光明社所持的反對理由，表現出其知識水平低，讀不懂判詞。美國最高法院表明，隨著同性伴侣在美國的普及和某些州已通過合法化，在第14條修正案下，它無法不進行裁決。
美國最高法院在判決時，觸及了香港終審法院審理w小姐案的一些法律觀點 ─ 「因為要生育的原因，所以擁有異性戀性交的能力，是婚姻中必不可少的元素」和常任法官陳兆愷頒發的異議判詞：「若本院援引這項權力的話，便相當於就社會議題訂立新政策，這會帶來長遠後果，必需經過公眾諮詢才能作出。這並非本院的職責。」
美國最高法院在判決的第三原則表示，「所以結婚的權利，不能與生兒育女的能力或承諾，扯在一起。----so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate.」美國最高法院也認為，在觸及一些憲法權利時，法庭不能以簡單程式處理，而有義務是識別這些基本權利，因為，它們很多時在傳統制度中被忽視。「unjustified inequality within fundamental institutions that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged. ----- That responsibility, however, “has not been reduced to any formula.”------」
美國最高法院也解釋社會活動與法律的關係 ─ 由於美國同性伴侣的活動公開法，改變了社會態度和最終迫使法院介入。