In holding today that the right to marry guaranteed by the state Constitution may not be withheld from anyone on the ground of sexual orientation, this court discharges its gravest and most important responsibility under our constitutional form of government. There is a reason why the words “Equal Justice Under Law” are inscribed above the entrance to the courthouse of the United States Supreme Court. Both the federal and the state Constitutions guarantee to all the “equal protection of the laws” (U.S. Const., 14th Amend.; Cal. Const., art. I, § 7), and it is the particular responsibility of the judiciary to enforce those guarantees. The architects of our federal and state Constitutions understood that widespread and deeply rooted prejudices may lead majoritarian institutions to deny fundamental freedoms to unpopular minority groups, and that the most effective remedy for this form of oppression is an independent judiciary charged with the solemn responsibility to interpret and enforce the constitutional provisions guaranteeing fundamental freedoms and equal protection.