WASHINGTON (CBS13/AP) — The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

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The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, just as he did in the court’s previous three major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

Reaction from local LGBT organizations was quick, with the executive director of Sacramento’s LGBT Community Center releasing the following statement:

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“We are beyond exuberant. This has been a long time coming. The fact that the freedom to marry is now the law of the land, words can’t capture the joy.”

In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts cautioned that the Constitution had nothing to do with the decision.

“If you are among the many Americans–of whatever sexual orientation–who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

California Governor Jerry Brown later released his own statement on the decision, recalling the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

“We’re reminded of how long and winding the road to equality has been. Today, our highest court has upheld a principle enshrined in our Constitution, but only now finally realized for same-sex couples across America.”

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.