Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON — In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.
The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.
The decisions will only intensify the fast-moving debate over same-sex marriage, and the clash in the Supreme Court reflected the one around the nation. In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion striking down the federal law in a stately tone that indicated he was delivering a civil rights landmark. After he finished, he sat stonily, looking straight ahead, while Justice Antonin Scalia unleashed a cutting dissent.