The Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and in his majority opinion Justice Anthony Kennedy explained why that right is so important.
“As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects,” Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.
He added, “It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the nation’s society.”
Kennedy’s point suggests same-sex marriage bans could have the effect of making gay people feel bad about themselves, regardless of whether they had specific plans to get married.
For young gay people, the knowledge that the government views same-sex marriages equally could provide some hope for the future. Gay teenagers are at increased risk of committing suicide, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. They experience more bullying and are more likely to abuse substances.
Despite evolving attitudes towards homosexuality, gay people will continue to face discrimination in the US. With the Supreme Court’s ruling, though, young gay Americans will at least know the government treats them and their relationships equally.
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