If you’ve been paying attention to the news in recent years, you’ve likely heard of the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. This landmark case made a significant impact on the lives of those in the LGBTQ+ community, as it made same-sex marriage legal across the United States. In this post, we’ll explore more about the case and answer the question: when was Obergefell decided?
The Background of Obergefell v. Hodges
Before we can understand when Obergefell was decided, we first need to understand the background behind the case. In 2013, a same-sex couple by the names of James Obergefell and John Arthur, who was terminally ill, flew to Maryland from their home state of Ohio so they could finally get married. Maryland was one of the few states at the time that allowed same-sex marriage.
After the wedding, Obergefell and Arthur challenged Ohio’s refusal to recognize their marriage on Arthur’s death certificate. When Arthur passed away, Obergefell sued the state of Ohio for the right to be listed on Arthur’s death certificate as the surviving spouse. This led to a series of legal battles in which courts were divided on whether same-sex couples had the right to marry and whether states had to recognize marriages that happened out of state.
The Journey to the Supreme Court
As the battle over same-sex marriage continued throughout the country, more and more cases were making their way to the Supreme Court. In 2014, the court heard arguments in cases originating from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In those cases, the court was asked whether state bans on same-sex marriage were constitutional.
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This ruling made same-sex marriage legal throughout the entire country, overturning state-level bans and opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Aftermath of Obergefell
The aftermath of the Obergefell decision was mixed. For those who had fought for the right to marry, it was a historic victory. It was the result of decades of activism and legal battles, and it granted same-sex couples the same rights and protections that opposite-sex couples had.
However, not everyone was in agreement with the decision. There was a large portion of the population that believed that marriage should only be between one man and one woman, and they were unhappy with the ruling. Some states even went as far as to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, resulting in further legal battles.
In conclusion, the case of Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the United States. The Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015, made history and granted the LGBTQ+ community the same rights as everyone else when it comes to matters of the heart. Despite opposition, the decision still stands, and same-sex couples can now enjoy the same rights and benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
What was the full decision of Obergefell?
The full decision of Obergefell v. Hodges was delivered on June 26, 2015, by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The case was brought forward by several same-sex couples who sought to have their marriages recognized and granted the same legal rights and protections as opposite-sex marriages.
After several lower courts found in favor of the same-sex couples, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. In their decision, the majority opinion held that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the right to marry as one of the fundamental liberties it protects, and that analysis applies to same-sex couples in the same manner as it does to opposite-sex couples.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion focused on the idea of dignity and the harm that denying same-sex couples the right to marry inflicted. He wrote, “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.”
Furthermore, Kennedy argued that marriage has been a fundamental aspect of human society for thousands of years and has great importance to both individual and collective purposes. “Marriage is not just about the emotional commitment between two individuals, but it also provides protection, support, and stability to families,” he wrote.
The decision in Obergefell has had far-reaching implications, affecting not only legal recognition of same-sex marriage but also issues such as adoption and parentage, healthcare and insurance benefits, and social and cultural attitudes towards LGBTQ+ persons. It is considered a landmark decision in the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
What was decided in Obergefell v. Hodges?
Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2015 that specifically addressed the issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples. The case arose from a series of lawsuits filed in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee by same-sex couples who were seeking legal recognition of their marriages or the ability to marry. In all of these cases, the plaintiffs argued that state laws banning same-sex marriage or refusing to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states violated their constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was a watershed moment for the LGBTQ+ community and marked a major step forward in the fight for marriage equality. In 5-4 ruling, the Court held that states must allow and recognize same-sex marriages under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. In his majority opinion, Justice Kennedy concluded that the fundamental right to marry cannot be limited to heterosexual couples.
The Court’s decision was based on several key legal arguments. First, it found that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy and liberty. This means that individuals have the right to choose whom they marry and that any attempt to restrict that choice or preference is a violation of their constitutional rights.
Second, the Court identified marriage as a fundamental right that is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This means that the government cannot infringe on the right of two consenting adults to get married without a compelling reason.
Finally, the Court concluded that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This clause requires that states treat all individuals equally under the law and prohibits any discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or sexual orientation. By prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying or recognizing their marriages, these states were discriminating against them solely on the basis of sexual orientation, which the court rejected as unconstitutional.
Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark Supreme Court case that recognized and established marriage equality for same-sex couples throughout the United States. The ruling marked a significant milestone in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and was a historic win for advocates and supporters of marriage equality.
Did Obergefell apply retroactively?
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court delivered its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry and that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. However, the issue of whether Obergefell applied retroactively to couples who married before the decision was not immediately clear.
The question of retroactivity arose because Obergefell effectively overruled the Court’s prior decision in Baker v. Nelson, which had rejected a same-sex couple’s claim that they had a constitutional right to marry. Because Baker had been decided in 1972, long before Obergefell, it was unclear whether same-sex couples who were married before Obergefell could have their marriages legally recognized.
Several state courts addressed the issue of retroactivity in the years following Obergefell. In some states, like Pennsylvania and Arizona, courts have held that Obergefell did apply retroactively, meaning that same-sex couples who were married before the decision must have their marriages recognized as valid. Other courts, like those in Wisconsin and Michigan, have held that Obergefell did not apply retroactively, meaning that only same-sex couples who married after the decision have the right to have their marriages recognized.
the question of whether Obergefell applied retroactively was largely resolved by the Supreme Court in the 2017 case of Pavan v. Smith. In that case, the Court held that Obergefell required states to recognize the marital rights of same-sex couples, including those who were married before Obergefell. The Court rejected arguments that Obergefell should not apply retroactively, stating that “a separate-and-unequal regime for same-sex marriage rights … cannot be countenanced under the Constitution.”
In sum, while the issue of retroactivity was initially unclear after the Obergefell decision, subsequent court decisions, including the Supreme Court’s decision in Pavan, have established that Obergefell does apply retroactively and that same-sex couples who were married before the decision are entitled to legal recognition of their marriages.