Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. But in a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and to recognize such marriages performed in other states.
The ruling means the remaining 14 states that did not allow such unions, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court's previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott opened the door for state agencies to withhold benefits from same-sex couples Friday, hours after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
In a letter released Friday afternoon, Abbott ordered heads of state agencies to prioritize religious freedom, writing that no adverse action should be taken against a state official "on account of the person's act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief."
"This order applies to any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations," Abbott wrote.
Earlier this month, the governor signed into law the "Pastor Protection Act," which exempts private citizens from performing marriages that would cause them to "violate a sincerely held religious belief." http://www.chron.com/news/houston-tex...