The Supreme Court has ruled that same-gender couples in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can marry, overturning a state ban on same-dying marriage.
But it did so in a way that was more modest than what many expected.
The court ruled 5-4 in favor of gay couples that the state could not ban them from marrying because it is an issue of state law.
The court did not decide the constitutionality of the ban, which had been challenged by gay and lesbian couples who argued that it violates their right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority that a state’s refusal to recognize same- gender marriages violated the state’s “fundamental right” to protect marriages between a man and a woman.
Alito added that the court was “dismayed” by the ruling and that it was a “cruel” decision that would result in the loss of thousands of jobs.
The ruling was the second major victory for gay rights in the court this year, and the first for gay marriage in Pennsylvania.
The ruling could impact hundreds of thousands more people in Pennsylvania, as well as thousands of businesses that do business in the state.
In a brief to the court, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, which represents the state, said the decision was a win for Pennsylvania and its people.
“Today’s decision is a step toward ending the divisive and discriminatory laws that prevent all people from enjoying the benefits of marriage, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the group said in a statement.
“Marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and it is the foundation of the Republic.
It is a cornerstone of American values and we are hopeful that today’s decision will inspire others to follow suit.”
Gay rights groups hailed the decision.
“This is a historic moment for Pennsylvania, where marriage is the bedrock of our society and the very cornerstone of our economy, and for our state, which for more than half a century has been the bedrock for our prosperity and progress,” said James Esseks, president of Freedom to Marry.
“This is an important milestone in the path to equality and the freedom to love.”
The ruling also gave gay and transgender couples the right to marry in other states, including New Jersey, New York and Maryland.
Gay couples will now be able to legally wed in Massachusetts, which will follow in the footsteps of Rhode Island and Vermont, the states that had previously legalized same- sex marriage.
The Supreme Court did not have to address the issue of whether same–sex couples should be able the right of same- gendered couples to marry, a key issue in the landmark ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2014.
But in a separate ruling, the court ruled that states cannot deny same- and opposite-sex married couples the ability to marry.