Marriage Equality Across the Land!


Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling in favor of marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (also: Henry v. Hodges–Ohio; Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear–Kentucky; DeBoer v. Snyder–MI; Tanco v. Haslam–TN). In a 5-4 decision, the justices endorsed the dual rationales of fundamental rights and equal protection. This is an enormous win for civil liberties.

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is ecstatic that the Court struck down the discriminatory marriage bans that have harmed same-sex couples and their families. With today’s ruling that marriage bans are unconstitutional, marriage equality will come in short order, not only to the four states in the 6th Circuit (Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee), but to all states that currently deny marriage equality. The ruling brings full relief to the petitioners and same-sex couples who are married or who wish to marry across the country.

From the opinion:

“It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality . . . Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.”

From our friends at, “The majority bases its conclusion that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right on “four principles and traditions”: (1) right to person choice in marriage is “inherent in the concept of individual autonomy”; (2) “two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals”; (3) marriage safeguards children and families; (4) marriage is a keystone to our social order.”

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization also filed the first freedom-to-marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1970, and represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013. The ACLU has filed sixteen federal court marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples since the Windsor decision.

Before today’s decision, there was a patchwork of relationship protections across the country. Thirty-sixstates and Washington, D.C. allowed same-sex couples to marry; thirteen states refused. The ACLU argues that America shouldn’t have different rules for something so fundamentally important as marriage.

Marriage is about love and commitment. Same-sex couples make the commitment at the core of marriage, and they should also get the protections and respect that come with marriage.

And today, as members of the LGBT community and as allies, we celebrate a tremendous step forward in realizing the vision and values embodied in our precious Constitution and Bill of Rights.