A crowd gathers outside the U.S. Supreme, awaiting news of the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Photo by Don Hoppert/APHA

The crowd outside the U.S. Supreme Court awaits news of the ruling on marriage equality. Photo by Don Hoppert/APHA

Same-sex couples across the entire nation can now enjoy benefits of marriage equal to opposite-sex couples, including health benefits.

In a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court decided today to protect marriage equality for the lesbian, gay and bisexual population in the U.S. Constitution and all states and territories.

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

“Couples across America may now wed and have their marriage recognized and respected no matter what state they call home,” said Jim Obergefell — one of the plaintiffs in the case — in a statement.

APHA voiced its strong support for the Supreme Court’s ruling. APHA has long advocated against discrimination based on sexual orientation and proudly led a friend of the court brief — along with Whitman-Walker Health — in Obergefell. APHA’s brief called on the Supreme Court to extend the health benefits of marriage to all couples and to dispel the structural stigma that negatively affects the health of LGB individuals as a result of unequal marriage laws.

“It’s clear that marriage equality is not just a civil rights issue, but a public health issue as well. By ensuring marriage equality for all, the Supreme Court’s decision will have a positive impact on the health of same-sex couples,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a news release.

“Research has shown that marriage contributes to better health and longevity. Discriminatory marriage policies are detrimental to the LGB population and contribute to poor health outcomes,” Benjamin said. “No American should be denied the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Today’s decision brings the U.S. one step closer to becoming the healthiest nation.”

In an address from the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama also applauded the court’s decision, saying that it “reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.”