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CaseDigest

Obergefellv.Hodges
Nos.14556,14571,and14574
June26,2015

Facts:
Inthiscase,fourteensamesexcouplesweretheplaintiffs,
and James Obergefell was one of them. The defendant is the
DirectoroftheOhioDepartmentofHealthnamedRichardHodges.
The States of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee
definedmarriageasaunionbetweenonemanandonewomananddid
notrecognizesamesexmarriages.Theplaintiffsconfrontedthese
laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution.Theychallengetheconstitutionalityofthosebans
on samesex marriage. They filed lawsuits in federal district
courtintheirhomestates.Theyarguedthat:
1)TheStatesstatuteviolatedtheEqualProtectionClause
andDueProcessClauseoftheFourteenthAmendment;
2) The Fourteenth Amendment required the States to allow
samesexmarriage;
3)TheFourteenthAmendmentrecognizedthevalidityofsuch
marriagesexecutedinotherjurisdictions.

Thefederaldistrictcourtsruledinfavoroftheplaintiffs
buttheCourtofAppealsconsolidatedthecasesandreversedthe
rulingsconsequentlytheplaintiffsappealedtotheSupremeCourt
oftheUnitedStates.
Issue:
Whetherornotmarriagelicensesmustbegrantedtosamesex
couplesineveryState.

Held:
Yes.TheFourteenthAmendmentrequiresthattheStatesmust
grant marriage licenses to samesex couples because samesex
coupleshavetherighttomarryineveryState.
TheSupremeCourtreasonedthatthehistoryofmarriageis
manifestedbybothcontinuityandchange.Changes,forinstance
the abandonment of the law of coverture and the waning of
arranged marriage have affected characteristics of marriage.
Thesenewinsightsinunderstandingmarriagehavefortifiedit,
notdestabilizedit.
Developments and shifts in public attitudes have made it
possible for samesex couples to enjoy more open and public
lives.Inthe2003,inthecaseofLawrencev.Texas,theSupreme
Courtheldthatlawsthatmadesamesexintimacyacrime,were
unconstitutionalandithumiliatedthelivesofgaypeople.It

then overruled the 1986 caseof Bowers v. Hardwickwhich had


sustainedaGeorgialawthatcriminalizedhomosexualconduct.
TheDueProcessClauseoftheFourteenthAmendmentprotects
fundamental liberties including personal choices that are
essential to individual dignity and autonomy which include an
individualsidentityandbeliefs.
The Supreme Court has long held the right to marry is
protected by the Constitution. For example, inLoving v.
Virginia,theCourtnullifiedbansoninterracialmarriage.The
Court must respect the fundamental reasons for protecting the
righttomarryindeterminingwhetherthesamelegalreasoning
shouldapplytosamesexmarriage.
These analyses directed to the conclusion that samesex
couplesmusthavetherighttomarrybecausetherighttomarry
isafundamentalrightinherentinthelibertyoftheperson.
Samesexcouplesshouldnotbedeprivedofthatrightand
thatlibertyundertheDueProcessandEqualProtectionClauses
oftheFourteenthAmendment.