The United States Supreme Court has issued what should be the final word on gay marriage in America. In a 5-4 decision, the justices reversed marriage bans in 14 states, including Michigan. There is no turning back; the nation should move forward as one people.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy eloquently expressed, what gay couples were asking for in these cases was "equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Enough said. This issue has been a political and cultural wedge in America for too long.

Opponents are not required to abandon their religious objections to gay marriage. Nor are they required to change their opinions regarding the morality of homosexuality.

But they are required to respect and adhere to the law. And gay marriage is now the law of the land.

It has been a long but steady march to this place. Just a decade ago, the overwhelming majority of Americans were opposed to full legal rights for gay couples. Today, that has shifted, with a majority supporting the rights of gays to the same marital privileges and protections as other couples.

That support is not universal, as President Barack Obama noted after the ruling Friday. The president correctly asked that the sincerely held religious objections be respected as well. The evolution of opinion on gay marriage has been rapid. It is more likely to continue in a positive direction if individuals are allowed to come to acceptance without coercion or harassment.

To that end, reasonable protections for legitimate religious objections are appropriate.

But the legalization of gay marriage should not bring about the same sort of ongoing back-door attacks aimed at limiting the right as did the legalization of abortion in 1973. Nearly 40 years after Roe v. Wade the fight to reverse abortion rights still rages.

In Michigan, lawmakers opposed to gay marriage are already drafting and introducing laws aimed at placing obstacles in front of gay couples headed to the altar. That must stop. Lawmakers must not approve nor the governor sign any measures that have the intent of side-stepping the court's ruling.

Republicans should welcome the opportunity to remove gay marriage as a campaign issue. It has increasingly become a loser for the GOP, particularly in national elections.

And true conservatives should celebrate. What the court did Friday was uphold the founding principle that the government does not exist to limit the rights of individuals.

The nation has for decades been moving away from the concept that individuals should have broad control of their own lives and decisions, as long as they are not causing harm to others. This decision is a victory for that core concept, and hopefully signals a new commitment by the court to personal liberty.

The Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage was inevitable in a nation that has not always honored the principles of its Founding, but has never stopped striving to get them right.

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