What they said: U.S. Supreme Court quotes on marriage equality

This artist rendering shows civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto right. arguing before the Supreme Court during its hearing on same-sex marriage, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Washington. Justices, from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan.

This artist rendering shows civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto right. arguing before the Supreme Court during its hearing on same-sex marriage, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Washington. Justices, from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan. Dana Verkouteren, AP

This artist rendering shows civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto right. arguing before the Supreme Court during its hearing on same-sex marriage, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Washington. Justices, from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan.Dana Verkouteren, AP

This artist rendering shows civil rights lawyer Mary Bonauto right. arguing before the Supreme Court during its hearing on same-sex marriage, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Washington. Justices, from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito Jr., and Elena Kagan.

WASHINGTON — Excerpts from arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday about whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry and whether states must recognize same-sex couples’ marriages performed in other states:

Chief Justice John Roberts, on the institution of marriage:

“You’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy:

“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia, plus time. … This definition (of marriage) has been with us for millennia. And it’s very difficult for the court to say ‘Oh well, we know better.'”

Roberts, to the proponents of gay marriage:

“If you prevail here, there will be no more debate. I mean, closing of debate can close minds, and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by the courts.”

Mary Bonauto, representing same-sex couples:

“In terms of the question of who decides, it’s not about the court versus the states. It’s about the individual making the choice to marry and with whom to marry, or the government.”

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Justice Samuel Alito, to supporters of same-sex marriage:

“Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license. Would there be any ground for denying them a license?”

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the federal government:

“Gay and lesbian people are equal. They deserve equal protection of the laws, and they deserve it now.”

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