The decades-long fight for marriage equality in America won its greatest victory Friday morning, with the Supreme Court ruling, by a 5-4 vote, that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court's ideological swing vote but also one of its most staunch defenders of gay rights. This is the final paragraph of that historic opinion, a powerful coda to his stirring argument for the dignity of all men and women:
Kennedy was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas each wrote their own opinions in dissent.
Those words, however, will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history. It is Kennedy's deeply human paragraph that will animate the future — and endure alongside this powerful blow for equality and equal protection under the law.