Just last month, President Obama declared that the month of June be recognized as LGBT Pride month. As it rapidly comes to close, there is no better way to end this celebration month than with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to grant marriage equality to all 50 United States. The official decision comes as a verdict on the much debated and highly publicized Obergefell v Hodges, along with three other related cases, where the Justices proclaimed in a 5-4 vote that the Constitution does in fact give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry and that the fundamental right to marriage is one afforded to all.
Obergefell v Hodges initially originated out of Ohio in 2013 after Jim Obergefell’s now late husband, John Arthur, tried to identify Jim as his surviving spouse for his impending death certificate. They had married legally in Maryland a couple years prior to John’s fatal diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While the local Ohio Registrar sided with the couple, the state Attorney General’s office stated that it would not honor their request since same-sex marriage was not legalized in the Buck Eye state. After two years of litigation, which included a temporary restraining order and reversal by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case finally made its way to the US Supreme Court who finally agreed to take on the issue of marriage equality after years of refusing to pass judgment. They listened to oral arguments on April 28th.
The majority opinion was authored by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg concluded this morning:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
While we’re fortunate enough to already have same-sex marriage here in Pennsylvania, there were 13 states that were holdouts on the equality front—including our neighboring state of Ohio.
If you have any questions on how this ruling affects your partnership or an impending move out of state, give us a call at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox: phone (814) 833-1987. We believe that everyone deserves fair and equal treatment under the law and work hard to advocate on behalf of all couples. Happy Pride.