States cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions, the Supreme Court says in a ruling that for months has been the focus of speculation. The decision was 5-4.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, seen as a pivotal swing vote in the case, wrote the majority opinion. All four justices who voted against the ruling wrote their own dissenting opinions: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Today's ruling "affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in their hearts: our love is equal," says lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, who challenged Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage.
Obergefell continued, "the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court — 'equal justice under law' — apply to us, too."
He filed suit because he wasn't allowed to put his name on his late husband John Arthur's death certificate after Arthur died from ALS. Holding a photograph of Arthur as he spoke today, Obergefell said, "No American should have to suffer that indignity."
Obergefell has been traveling from Cincinnati to Washington every week, to be sure he would be in the court when a decision was announced in his case.
The justices ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is linked to three other same-sex marriage cases that rose up through the court system. Together, they involve a dozen couples who challenged same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee — the only states with bans on marriage between gay and lesbian couples that had been sustained by a federal appeals court.
Today's ruling overturned that decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. As the Supreme Court's summary states, "The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change."
The justices had been asked to decide whether the 14th Amendment requires states to a) license same-sex marriages and b) recognize such unions that were made in other states.
The 14th Amendment was ratified shortly after the Civil War. It has to do with U.S. citizenship — and with providing equal protection for all citizens.
Before Friday's ruling, gay marriage had already been made legal in 37 states — by either legislative or voter action or by federal courts that overturned state' bans.
News article provided by NPR.
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The facts of each case are unique and the laws in each state are different. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. It is not legal advice. For more information about your specific questions, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at www.fanninglawllc.com.