Contrary to some misleading media reports, the US Supreme Court has not legalised gay marriage throughout America.
The ruling means each US state may decide for itself whether it wants same-sex marriage or not – just as they could before the ruling.
The court did, though, strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) relating to federal benefits.
It means same-sex couples who enter a gay marriage in those few US States which allow it are entitled to federal benefits.
In a separate ruling the court refused to decide whether the traditional definition of marriage in the US State of California is constitutional.
That law was introduced by a vote of the people, but the Governor and Attorney General of California refused to defend it in court. That is why the court did not issue a decision.
It is not yet clear whether the law defending the traditional definition of marriage in California remains in place.
But the court’s refusal to make a ruling on the issue means other states can continue to have a traditional definition of marriage if they want to.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is one of the leading defenders of the true meaning of marriage.
NOM president, Brian Brown, said the court had not made the kind of sweeping ruling it made in Roe v. Wade which legalised abortion throughout America.
He said: “make no mistake, we avoided a Roe v. Wade for marriage and for that we should be grateful!”
Joe Infranco of the lawyers’ group, Alliance Defending Freedom, said: “the decisions are not as dire as much of the media is portraying.”
He added: “Most importantly, the opposition did not land a knock-out punch. Their goal of a 50–state mandate was not achieved.”