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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 26, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 26
It's marriage!
Supreme Court rules for equality
Section One
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It's marriage!
Supreme Court rules for equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Obergefell v. Hodges is now as historic as USA v. Windsor (2013), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and Loving v. Virginia (1967).

The U.S. Supreme Court - in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy - ruled on June 26 that Gay and Lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marriage.

The date itself is significant. June 26 is the anniversary of the Windsor decision striking down DOMA, and the Lawrence ruling striking down a Texas sodomy law.

The Obergefell decision means that all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to marry. The court majority did not take the easy out of ruling that states must recognize legal marriages but need not allow them in their jurisdictions.

For James Obergefell, the decision brings some vindication, finally allowing him to be listed as the spouse of John Arthur on Arthur's death certificate. Obergefell and Arthur had been partners for 21 years and had been married in Maryland, but the state of Ohio refused to recognize their marriage.

The decision, citing the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Justice Kennedy's signature argument for the 'dignity' of all individuals, appears to be as sweeping as equal rights activists had hoped.

A first reading of the ruling suggests that Kennedy applied the same legal reasoning he used in the Windsor decision, and that sexual orientation will now define a protected class. In other words, laws that treat LGBT individuals and families differently from their straight neighbors must be subject to 'heightened scrutiny.'

'Heightened scrutiny' means that states must show that laws treating LGBT individuals differently must fulfill some compelling government interest that cannot be fulfilled in any other way.

While the U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that Transgender Americans are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual individuals previously lacked federal civil rights protections.

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Supreme Court rules for equality

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