The U.S. Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans nationwide in a sweeping decision handed down Friday. In heartfelt, plain language, a five-justice majority described what the law does not often directly adress—the value of intimate, lasting relationships, and their value in society, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. Here are some key excerpts of what the justices wrote.

Why marriage is important:
“The right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals,” the court wrote. “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other.”

Striking down Texas anti-sodomy laws:
“Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty.”

Historic expansion of rights:
“If rights were defined by who exercised them in the past, then received practices could serve as their own continued justification and new groups could not invoke rights once denied. This Court has rejected that approach, both with respect to the right to marry and the rights of gays and lesbians.”

Answering religious opponents:
“Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”

On children raised by same-sex couples:
“Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, … children [of same-sex couples] suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”