On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made a historic ruling in favor of nationwide same-sex marriages. In what is considered a victory for the gay rights movement, the court’s decision states that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. As a result, all 50 states, including the 14 states that previously held bans, must now grant and recognize these marriages as valid unions.
This ruling came as the decision for the long-standing legal battle that begin in Ohio with Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff. Obergefell married his spouse, John Arthur, on a medical plane in Maryland in 2013 before returning to their home state of Ohio. Months later, Arthur passed away and the state refused to recognize his marital status on his death certificate.
The case rose through the justice system from district courts to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 vote, the decision was made:
“The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Dui Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. (…) The state laws challenged by the petitioners in these cases are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. Pp. 22-23.”
The fourteen affected states include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Most of Missouri
Various politicians of some states, especially Texas and Alabama, continue to protest the decision. One of the most common concerns of those opposed to the ruling is the protection of religious freedom. However, most states say they will respect the ruling, and have already begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.