The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, making it legal in all 50 states.
The decision from the capitol has caused both celebration and concern among U.S. citizens, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU-Idaho students.
The Church released a statement in response to the Supreme Court decision.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States,” according to Mormon Newsroom. “The Court’s decision does not alter the Lord’s doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman a central part of our doctrine and practice.”
Jason Rollins (name changed upon request), a student who is gay and a junior studying communication, said he appreciates when the Church responds to an issue like this.
“While it is bold and direct, it is not offensive,” Rollins said. “The Church said [its teachings] are not going to change because of legislation but reminded people that we need to treat each other well.”
Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
“The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression intimacy and spirituality,” Kennedy said. “This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy make such profound choices.”
John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said he respectfully dissents the Supreme Court ruling.
“If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means, celebrate today’s decision,” Roberts said. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
Lee Davidson, a student who is gay and a senior studying political science, said he is in favor of the ruling because it allows friends of his to marry.
Bradli Wellborn, a junior studying history education, said she was disappointed when she heard same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide but plans to respect the law.
“I think the Church is very firm on what our stance is, but at the same time, they show respect for both our government and those who think differently,” Wellborn said.
Rollins said although he remains neutral on same-sex marriage, he will support those in favor of the decision.
“I understand they deserve to follow what they feel is right,” Rollins said. “The U.S. is built upon the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and this is part of their liberty, the way they view the world. We can’t define liberty for anyone. We can’t define the pursuit of happiness for anyone.”
With the new ruling, Wellborn said some members are concerned their worship of God might be affected but said they should not be worried.
“The government is still pretty fair about these things,” Wellborn said. “They respect our beliefs just like I’m trying to respect those who I disagree with. We are still allowed to have churches and worship.”
Rollins said marriage has now become a more personal thing for the Church because the government now allows all couples to marry.
“It just can’t be that we’re doing what society does anymore,” Rollins said. “With marriage, we have to do what we’re going to do, and it has to be our own thing.”
Davidson said gay marriage has been legal in several states for many years now, and people should continue living life as they normally would.
Carree Britt, a senior studying elementary education, has a brother who is gay and said that even though she has a testimony of the gospel, she still plans on attending his wedding now that the option is available to him.
“I respect my brother’s life and choices,” Britt said. “It doesn’t really matter who he loves or who he decides to marry — he’s still my brother. As a family, we will always support him.”
Britt said that when she prayed about same-sex marriage, she felt that the Church’s current position on the issue will remain the same and that she shouldn’t worry about it.
“The Savior loves my brother just as much as He loves everyone else,” Britt said.
Stephanie McGinnis, a post-baccalaureate student studying horticulture, said she thinks the Supreme Court ruling is more than marriage; it is about the happiness of others.
“Every person has the right to the utmost happiness, and I have no place to take it away,” McGinnis said.
Although Wellborn said she recognizes that her opinion regarding same-sex marriage might be unpopular, she said she supports traditional marriage because marriage between a man and a woman is a central part of the plan of happiness.
“I want to understand the LGBT stance, but at the same time, I can’t see myself disobeying God,” Wellborn said. “God already knows what’s going to happen. He already has a plan. He knows what happened, and He’s going to teach us how to respond.”
Rollins said students should not panic about the Supreme Court ruling and remember that Christ loves everyone.
“[Same-sex marriage] is not going to ‘unhappen,’” Rollins said. “The eyes of the world are more focused on the religious community than on the LGBT community. It’s our responsibility to show the best of our community. It’s our responsibility to make what our children read in textbooks a positive experience rather than having the view of the historians be that there was religious bigotry and zealotry against a community who just wanted the same rights.”