In a highly-anticipated decision, the United States Supreme Court held that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” Obergefell v. Hodges, 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (U.S. June 26, 2015). The Court held that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.” Id.
In reaching its decision, the Court examined how marriage has evolved over the years and noted that “it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change.” The Court noted that “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle” and yet same-sex couples have been harmed in many ways. They were “consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives.” This exclusion has “the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society. Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.”Obergefell v. Hodges, 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (U.S. June 26, 2015)
The Court recognized the urgency of resolving this legal disability and discrimination: