When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy penned his 28-page opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, he may have had wedding vows in mind.
Both gay and straight couples across the U.S., and even as far away as Australia, have incorporated passages from Kennedy’s landmark opinion into their marriage ceremonies, noted the Associated Press.
Obergefell, which was handed down on June 26, gave same-sex couples throughout the United States the right to marry. Its concluding (and most quoted) paragraph states:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become greater than they once were.”
While the opinion has been criticized by legal experts as lacking in legal reasoning and too heavy on sentimentality, couples say they are drawn to the document, not only because of its historical significance, but also because the language strikes them as “beautiful,” “elegant” and “powerful.”
Kennedy’s opinion is not the first legal ruling to be woven into wedding vows. Couples also have borrowed quotes from a 2003 Massachusetts state court decision, which was the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Other couples have selected words from a ruling that invalidated California’s Proposition 8. But the words written in Obergefell seem to have gained a much wider reach.
So did Kennedy craft the opinion with a certain foresight? We may never know.
When asked about his contribution to couples’ nuptials, the justice declined comment.