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Today Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal

Posted on June 26, 2015 at 1:40 PM


Today, June 26, 2015 will mark a very important day in constitutional history as the Supreme Court decides that all states must recognize same-sex marriages from other states and must allow same-sex couples to marry.

Summary: In this historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s decision invalidates all state statutes and constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marriage. 



The Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case allows same-sex couples throughout the nation the freedom to marry and the right to have their marriages recognized. There is much to celebrate with this affirmation of the equality of same-sex couples under the federal Constitution. This decision grants same-sex couples and their families in every state and territory far-reaching legal protections and respect for their relationships conferred through marriage.

Today's decision was a strong win and the Supreme Court issued a very strong opinion holding that the 14th amendment requires all states to allow same sex couple to marry and must recognize same sex marriages entered into in other states.

The decision was given by Justice Kennedy and held that same-sex marriage bans constitute discrimination against gay people. The court's decision is acknowledgment of the dignity of same-sex couples. The basis of the ruling was that the court found that depriving same-sex couples the right to marry infringes on the fundamental rights under equal protection and constitutes discrimination. Marriage is a fundamental right to which everyone has an equal right and a right to equal dignity. The Supreme Court relied heavily on Loving v. Virginia which was the law that overturned inter-racial marriage bans and the analysis in this case is comparable.

Though the decision does not specifically discuss the level of scrutiny required this is not necessary because the Supreme Court held that marriage is a fundamental right and, therefore, it requires the highest level of scrutiny. Because it is a fundamental right analysis the burden is on the states to prove legitimate reason. The Supreme Court held that there was no justification at all and that the Same-sex marriage bans were simply discrimination. Same-Sex couples have the same rights and responsibility, benefits and protections, as opposite sex couples.

The end of the decision was strong acknowledging that there is no union more profound than marriage …. Two people become something greater than they were. Same-sex couples have the right to equal dignity in the eyes of the law – constitution grants them that!

The Supreme Court in their decision also described the harm caused by marriage bans.


Implementation: There is no reason for delays in implementation of this decision in all states in which same-sex marriage was not allowed. Texas has promised to move forward in allowing same-sex couples to marry, though there may be some delay. Some states will try to fight implementation and this decision is not the end of the fight.


There are still many hurdles for same-sex couples who can still be subject to discrimination based on religious observances in some states as well as inequality under employment state employment law due to which some same-sex employees may still be fired based on their sexual orientation.


- Rivka Israel, Esq.

Interesting fun facts: Lawrence v. Texas overturned all remaining sodomy laws. This was issued on June 26th as was U.S. v. Windsor.


Some memorable quotes from today's decision:

“[T]he right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty."


“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. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”



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