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Gov't Cannot Bestow Dignity, 'Slaves Did Not Lose Their Dignity,' Thomas Says in Gay Marriage Dissent

Gov't Cannot Bestow Dignity, 'Slaves Did Not Lose Their Dignity,' Thomas Says in Gay Marriage Dissent

Gay rights supporters celebrate after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, June 26, 2015. The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. | (Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg)

The lone African-American justice on the Supreme Court dissented from the landmark ruling declaring gay marriage legal nationwide, addressing, in part, the majority opinion's view that gay marriage would bestow dignity upon gay couples.

In a 5-4 decision, the highest court in the land ruled Friday morning that state-level gay marriage bans violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the four dissenters, wrote in his dissent that the government cannot bestow "dignity" to gay marriages, despite the ruling.

"Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them," wrote Justice Thomas.

"And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away."

Thomas went on to write that majority opinion, which was authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, was "deeply misguided."

"Its invalidation of those laws can have no effect on the dignity of the people who continue to adhere to the traditional definition of marriage," continued Thomas.

"And its disdain for the understandings of liberty and dignity upon which this Nation was founded can have no effect on the dignity of Americans who continue to believe in them."

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On Thursday morning, the highest court in the land issued a ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges arguing that state-level gay marriage bans violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

This came after years of debate over the constitutionality of state-level bans, including the many states that passed, via popular vote, amendments to their state constitutions banning gay marriage.

The decision overturned a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the constitutionality of four state-level bans.

The split decision was immediately praised by gay rights groups as a landmark victory while denounced by social conservatives as a setback for family values and religious liberty.

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