ATLANTA - Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states. The landmark decision came down Friday from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Channel 2’s Justin Gray was inside the U.S. Supreme Court Chambers
as Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke for the majority.
Kennedy argued that the right to marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution and that the definition of marriage has changed overtime to include same-sex couples.
Police let hundreds of people pour onto the Supreme Court Plaza where crowds normally aren't allowed.
FIND: Same-sex marriage officiants in Georgia
Ethan Hyde from Cumming, Georgia, camped out overnight to get a coveted seat inside the chambers.
“It's really great to be a part of history,” Hyde said.
Speaking for the majority in the 5
-4 decision Kennedy said, "Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry."
A lot of times the court can have a very narrow opinion, focus on a specific issue. But in this case they were broad and they were clear saying, “Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”
Jim Obergefell's name was on the historic court case. His husband died in 2013. Their Maryland marriage was never recognized by Ohio where they lived.
“As soon as he started speaking about two sentences in I just started crying,” Obergefell said.
In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said the issue should be left to voters and legislatures.
“Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Roberts said in his dissent.
Christine Weick stood out in the happy crowd. She's been outside the Supreme Court with a sign for 63 straight days.
“I love them, I want them in heaven in with me,” Weick told Gray. “This decision affects my life. It affects my family.”
In the final two line of his decision, Kennedy wrote: “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Georgia's first same-sex couple weds
The Supreme Court’s decision had immediate impact well beyond Washington, D.C.
Soon after the ruling, same-sex couples across metro Atlanta lined up at courthouses to get a marriage license.
Channel 2's Tom Regan sat in on the first official same-sex wedding in Georgia Friday.
The couple told Regan they wanted to be the first to get married following the high court ruling. They were so confident the court would rule in support of same
-sex marriage they went to the clerk's office well before the court's decision.
“You entered this courthouse today as separate individuals and you leave here today as part of something large,” Judge Jane Morrison said during the ceremony to Patrina Bloodworth and Emma Foulkes.
“How you feel about this?” Tom Regan asked the couple.
“We're excited, we're so excited,” the couple replied.
READ: Local leaders release statements on Supreme Court marriage ruling
Regan was with the couple right after they picked up their marriage license -- the first issued in the state of Georgia to a same-sex couple.
About 30 minutes later, with nervous anticipation, they displayed their wedding rings to the judge and exchanged vows. And with that, the judge gave her stamp of approval to the marriage.
“I pronounce you wife and wife, legal spouse, fully married under Georgia Law,” Morrison said to a round of applause and cheers inside the room.
It was a day the couple had dreamed about for years
“This is one of the best days of my life," Bloodworth said.
READ: Social media reaction to same-sex marriage ruling
“I’m so happy. We have been together for 10 years and what happened today was so historical. And for us and our family to be legally recognized in the United States, this is such an incredible day," Foulkes said.
The couple, who have a son, told Regan they were thinking about getting married in another state while on vacation. They decided to wait and are happy they held off.
Opposition says fight is not over
Not everyone is pleased with the marriage equality ruling. Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory issued a statement Friday saying:
"Each U.S. Supreme Court decision that has ever been rendered has resulted in deep disappointment for some people and vindication for others. If we all agreed on the outcomes of these divisive cases, there would simply be no reason for the Court to convene. This most recent decision is no different.
"By the same token, every court decision is limited in what it can achieve; again, this one is no exception. It does not change the biological differences between male and female human beings or the requirements for the generation of human life, which still demands the participation of both. It does not change the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony, which beautifully joins a man and woman in a loving union that is permanent in commitment and open to God’s blessing of precious new life.
"This judgment, however, does not absolve either those who may approve or disapprove of this decision from the obligations of civility toward one another. Neither is it a license for more venomous language or vile behavior against those whose opinions continue to differ from our own. It is a decision that confers a civil entitlement to some people who could not claim it before. It does not resolve the moral debate that preceded it and will most certainly continue in its wake.
"This moral debate must also include the way that we treat one another - especially those with whom we may disagree. In many respects, the moral question is at least as consequential and weighty as the granting of this civil entitlement. The decision has offered all of us an opportunity to continue the vitally important dialogue of human encounter, especially between those of diametrically differing opinions regarding its outcome.
The decision has made my ministry as a pastor more complex since it demands that I both continue to uphold the teachings of my Church regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony while also demanding that I insist upon respect for the human dignity of both those who approve of the judgment as well as those who may disapprove."
A niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who's also a minister, said the Supreme Court ruling is not the final word. In a statement, Dr. Alveda King said:
"The Supreme Court has spoken and ruled from a position of common law - human law - that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry. This is the highest rule that humans can make. Yet this is not the final word.
"In the end, natural law, God's law will always trump common law. Do not fear or be confused or deceived. Remain prayerful. Keep looking up. God will have the final Word in this matter."
State officials say state will follow the law of the land
Georgia was one of more than a dozen states with a ban on same-sex marriage. But with Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the state can't enforce that ban.
Gov. Nathan Deal made it clear Friday that Georgia will follow the new law of the land.
“We're just prepared to abide by the law and be good citizens of the United States,” Deal told Channel 2’s Lori Geary.
Even before the ruling, state leaders were clear they would follow the law, no matter the decision.
“Laws are not Republican or Democrat. They're laws,” said Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.
Olens told Geary that he put out a memo moments after the ruling.
“We told state agencies to immediately comply. We told local governments to immediately start issuing those marriage licenses,” Olens said.
That's something local and state governments will have to get used to since Georgia is one of 14 states that had a constitutional gay marriage ban.
Geary covered the fight at the state Capitol 11 years ago when lawmakers passed and 76 percent of Georgia voters agreed to ban same-sex marriages.
“There's a Supreme Court but there's also a supreme being that everyone is answerable to no matter what position you hold,” Virginia Galloway of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Galloway said the decision will re-energize their fight.
“Much like the Roe v. Wade decision, which ignited the fight on abortion, brought it to a higher level and so much more polarizing, I think the decision will do the same thing,” Galloway said.
“This has no effect on religious liberty. Ministers have the right to refuse to do same sex marriages so that they can comply with the tenants of their religious faiths,” Olens said.
Olens said he would have liked to see more case law cited in the decision to give those against it a better legal understanding.