Eliminating sex discrimination through research, education and legal activities
Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held in a 5–4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clauseand the Equal Protection Clause of theFourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In November 2014, following a lengthy series of appeals court rulings from theFourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuitsthat state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, the Sixth Circuit ruled that it was bound by Baker v. Nelson and found such bans to be constitutional. This created a split between circuits and led to an almost inevitable Supreme Court review.
Decided on June 26, 2015, Obergefelloverturned Baker and requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions. This legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States, and its possessions and territories. The Court examined the nature of fundamental rights guaranteed to all by the Constitution, the harm done to individuals by delaying the implementation of such rights while the democratic process plays out, and the evolving understanding of discrimination and inequality that has developed greatly since Baker.
Prior to Obergefell, thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, and Guam already issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The governor of Puerto Rico announced on June 26 that same-sex marriage would begin in that territory within 15 days, and on June 29 and June 30, the governors of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands (respectively) made similar announcements. The status of same-sex marriage in American Samoa remains uncertain.