The plaza in front of the Supreme Court was awash with rainbow flags and “marry who you love” signs on Wednesday, as hundreds of gay Americans celebrated two historic victories for advocates of same-sex marriage.

“Seven years ago we literally had to leave the country to make a legal commitment to each other,” said John Becker, a 28-year-old who went to Canada to marry his husband. “Now I come to the Supreme Court in 2013 and hear that for the first time the federal government recognises the reality, which is we are not strangers, we are spouses.”
 
With Wednesday’s decisions, the highest court in the US has taken a position on a controversial social issue that has divided the country for years, and continues to be a cultural fault line.