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Obergefell v. Hodges

135 S. Ct. 1039, 576 U.S. 644 (2015)

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Obergefell v. Hodges

United States Supreme Court

135 S. Ct. 1039, 576 U.S. 644 (2015)

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In response to some states legalizing same-sex marriage, various states enacted laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. When James Obergefell’s (plaintiff) partner, John Arthur, became terminally ill, the pair decided to marry. The couple wed in Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. After Arthur died, however, the couple’s home state of Ohio refused to list Obergefell as Arthur’s surviving spouse on the death certificate. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse (plaintiffs), a same-sex couple living in Michigan, adopted three children. Because of a state ban on adoptions by same-sex couples, DeBoer and Rowse could not both be legal parents to their children. Ipje DeKoe and Thomas Kostura (plaintiffs) got married in New York before DeKoe was deployed to Afghanistan with the army reserve. They later moved to Tennessee, which refuses to recognize the union. These and similarly situated plaintiffs separately sued state officials (defendants) charged with enforcing state marriage laws in federal courts in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, alleging violations of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The district courts found for the plaintiffs in each instance, but the state officials appealed to United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The court of appeals consolidated the cases and reversed, holding that states were under no constitutional duty to license or recognize same-sex marriages. The plaintiffs petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Roberts, C.J.)

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