Dear Commons Community,
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 earlier today that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“The decision is a historic victory for gay rights activists who have fought for years in the lower courts. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already recognize marriage equality. The remaining 13 states ban these unions, even as public support has reached record levels nationwide.
The justices found that, under the 14th Amendment, states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex unions that have been legally performed in other states. Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. In a rare move, the four dissenting justices each wrote an opinion.
The lead plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges is Ohio resident Jim Obergefell, who wanted to be listed as the surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate. In 2013, Obergefell married his partner of two decades, John Arthur, who suffered from ALS. Arthur passed away in October of that year, three months after the couple filed their lawsuit.
Obergefell was joined by several dozen other gay plaintiffs from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee who were fighting to be able to marry and to have their marriage recognized in every state in the country.
In the majority opinion, the justices outlined several reasons same-sex marriage should be allowed. They wrote that the right to marriage is an inherent aspect of individual autonomy, since “decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.” They also said gay Americans have a right to “intimate association” beyond merely freedom from laws that ban homosexuality.”
A great decision and a huge victory for gay rights.