Supreme Court Rules States Cannot Ban Same-Sex Marriage: Obergefell v. Hodges
In a 5-4 ruling on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples can marry nationwide. Specifically, the Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires the states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was fully licensed and performed out of state.
Who are the Parties
The named petitioner in this case, Jim Obergefell, married his husband on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington International airport in 2013. Arthur, Obergefell’s husband, was suffering from advanced ALS, and soon after their marriage, and upon Arthur’s death, Obergefell filed an injunction to be listed as the surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate. Obergefell initially secured the injunction, which was subsequently overturned on appeal
The other petitioners in this case have similar stories. Fourteen couples claimed their rights were violated when they were either (1) denied the the right to marry or (2) their otherwise lawful marriages were not recognized by state law. These 14 couples hailed from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee where marriage was limited to heterosexual couples
Obergefell became the named petitioner in this case because his case number was lower than those of the other petitioners.
What Did the Court Say?
The Court began by noting that marriage is a concept that is constantly changing, having advanced from arranged marriages to the recognition of inter-racial marriages. Additionally, the rights of gays and lesbians have evolved significantly, as well.
The Court held that the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects personal choices that are “central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.” These “personal choices” mentioned by the Due Process Clause include the fundamental right to marry. The right to marry is fundamental because the right to personal marriage choices is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy, the Court has long upheld the sanctity of two-person unions, marriage is critical to protect families and children, and finally, marriage is undoubtedly a “keystone of the Nation’s social order.”
The Court additionally decided that denying same-sex couples the right to marry while allowing similarly situated heterosexual couples to marry violates the equal protection of the laws.
What Rights Do Same-Sex Couples Have Now?
The Court noted in its decision that the right of same-sex couples to marry and have their legal marriages recognized by other states “need not await” further legislation or litigation. By implication, this means same-sex couples will enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples, including visitation rights, joint parenting rights, “next of kin” rights for emergency medical decision, the right to spousal benefits when an officer is killed in the line of duty, and spousal immunity.
How Do I Enforce My Same-Sex Marriage?
The experienced attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A. can help you navigate the enforcement of your marriage or spousal rights as a same-sex couple. Contact the Tampa family and divorce lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+