‘Like a thunderbolt’: America reacts to gay marriage ruling

The White House is illuminated in rainbow colors after today's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Washington June 26, 2015 (Reuters / Gary Cameron)
​Friday’s historic Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry across the United States arrived “like a thunderbolt,” President Barack Obama said, delighting progressive supporters but enraging conservative opponents.

READ MORE: US Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide

Following the Court’s 5-4 decision, President Obama said, “This ruling is a victory for America.”

“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,” Obama said from the Rose Garden.

He added that the Supreme Court “reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law, that all people should be treated equally regardless of who they are or who they love."

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that she is “proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality—& the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible.”

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, also a Democratic candidate for president, said the court “fulfilled the words engraved upon its building: ‘Equal justice under law.’” Other Democratic candidates also weighed in:

Outside of the Supreme Court, activists and same-sex couples celebrated the decision once it was handed down. Under the ruling, couples around the US will be able to enter civil marriages regardless of their sexual orientation.

Conservatives, however, reacted angrily, with nearly every Republican candidate for president excoriated the ruling. Perhaps the strongest condemnation came from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who just declared his candidacy. He said the decision would lead to an “an all-out assault on religious freedom guaranteed in the first amendment” and later suggested eliminating the Supreme Court entirely.

“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body,” he told an Iowa crowd during a speech.

“If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also blasted the Supreme Court, calling the ruling an “out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."

“If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment,” he added in his statement.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite and harsh critic of same-sex marriage, said the Supreme Court has delivered “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

Speaking on Fox pundit Sean Hannity’s radio show, Cruz said the Court’s rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage “were both naked and shameless judicial activism.”

“Today, this radical decision purporting to down the marriage laws of every state. It has no connection to the United States Constitution,” he said. “They are simply making it up. It is lawless, and in doing so, they have undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and other GOP candidates also expressed their anger.

Notably, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who many consider a frontrunner for the GOP nomination, also steered clear of directly railing against same-sex marriage, instead saying he believes states should be allowed to make their own decision on the matter.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has argued intensely in favor of equal rights for gay couples, celebrated the ruling.

“Today's decision has been 50 years in the making and will stand with Brown vs. Board of Education as one of the landmark civil rights moments of our time,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director, in a statement.

“Now we take the battle for full legal equality to the states, where 31 states have yet to pass any statewide LGBT non-discrimination laws. The wind is at our backs, and we are now on the cusp of achieving full legal equality for LGBT Americans across the country.”

The decision was also hailed by some corporations.