OTTAWA, Ontario — Friday brought celebrations both on and off the field for the United States women’s national team.
A 1-0 victory over China — and, finally, a win in convincing fashion — sent the U.S. into the semifinals for the seventh time in seven Women’s World Cups. There was a sense of relief among the Americans, a celebration of them finally finding their groove.
Earlier in the day, there was a different and even more important kind of joy.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by majority (5-4) decision on Friday for same-sex marriage to be legalized nationwide, declaring that refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the Constitution.
The news carried extra meaning for U.S. women’s national team players, several of whom are openly gay.
“Just amazing,” said U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe, one of the players who is out. She missed Friday’s quarterfinal due to suspension. “That’s an amazing feeling, obviously. Something that you can’t really put into words. It’s something that’s maybe a little overwhelming for them to just strike it totally across the board. I’m so proud to be American today, for that reason and many others.”
U.S. forward Abby Wambach said that the team had a Supreme Court-themed celebration planned for a potential second goal.
“Obviously it impacts my life personally, but everybody on our team was super excited and happy about it,” Wambach said. “To cap it off with a win, moving on to the semis in the World Cup, for me, it doesn’t get better.”
Wambach married Sarah Huffman – a former U.S. national team player – in October 2013.
On the ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,” Kennedy wrote. “As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.”
Before the game, U.S. Soccer tweeted its “One Nation One Team” motto in a rainbow theme in recognition of the news.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis spoke openly after the match about the historic decision affecting all 50 states — and she was particularly impressed with how her employer treated the news.
“I was actually very honored with what U.S. Soccer put out,” United States . “When I saw it, I was very moved. Our players, they’re great role models, and to have that now be something that all of us can embrace, no matter where we live in the country, I think it’s tremendous. It’s a tremendous step for our country, and certainly as somebody who benefits from that I’m extremely pleased for everybody in our nation, in the LGBT community.”