Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision [PDF],holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry” and guaranteeing that the right to marry the person you love no longer depends on where you live. In doing so, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitutions protections “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”

As the National Women’s Law center argued in its brief [PDF], bans on marriages between same-sex couples discriminate on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and should be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution. Today’s opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, while not directly addressing the Constitutional standard for reviewing sexual orientation discrimination or discussing whether the bans constituted sex discrimination, touched on the significance of gender stereotyping in acknowledging the Constitutional relevance of the of the evolution of the “meaning” of marriage over time, noting that “in interpreting the Equal Protection Clause, . . . new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality within our fundamental institutions…Notwithstanding the gradual erosion of the doctrine of coverture, invidious sex-based classifications in marriage remained common through the mid-20th century. These classifications denied the equal dignity of men and women.”

Thankfully, the Court today refused to take us back to the days of state-sanctioned gender stereotyping. The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down laws [PDF] that classify on the basis of gender and embrace overbroad gender stereotypes, including in the context of marriage and the family. Today’s decision is a historic step on that same path. As President Obama said, “This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”