Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

Same-Sex Couples Have Fundamental Right to Marry

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Yesterday, Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Today, that definition is an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage Nationwide

Obergefell v. Hodges

This case was actually a combination of four cases from different states. In the named case Obergefell v. Hodges, Jim Obergefell, from Ohio, and his partner married in Maryland after the United States v. Windsor decision in 2013. However, the state of Ohio refused to recognize Obergefell's marriage.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Ohio did not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

In its decision today, the Supreme Court overruled the Sixth Circuit.

History of Marriage by Justice Kennedy

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Kennedy turned to the history of marriage.

While opponents of same-sex marriage argued that the institution of marriage would be demeaned if the definition changed, Kennedy pointed out that the history of marriage has not been stagnant. He wrote, "The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential."

When marriage changed, the institution got stronger, not weaker. So, a change in the definition to include a union between two men or two women would not be disastrous as feared.

Fundamental Right to Marry

More importantly, Kennedy declared, "The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry."

Now, all states must provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

Related Resources:

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard