Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage as violation of constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment
(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in favor of marriage equality and equal rights for same-sex couples no matter where they live. Today’s ruling specifically affirms that states cannot prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or refuse to recognize legal marriages of same-sex couples obtained in other states.
The Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges—which was consolidated with Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear —found that state bans on same-sex marriage and refusing to recognize legal marriages obtained in other states was a clear violation of both the due process and equal protection rights protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
In writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy stated: “The fundamental liberties” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs. … [l]ike choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.”
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling marks a truly historic moment for equality, liberty, and personal freedom.
“It is the promise of the U.S. Constitution that we have a fundamental right to build the life, family, and future we choose, free from discrimination and interference, no matter where we live.
“The nation’s highest court ruled today in favor of every American’s right to equal protection and dignity. And we are so proud to stand alongside the LGBT community during this triumph for marriage equality in the U.S.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights joined the National Women’s Law Center’s amicus brief in the case, which argues that laws discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the marriage bans at issue in these cases, must be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee, like laws that discriminate on the basis of sex or race. The Court heard arguments in the Obergefell case in April 2015.
Today’s ruling builds on the Court’s previous cases protecting liberty rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, which include Lawrence v. Texas – which put an end to state sodomy laws – and Planned Parenthood v. Casey – which reaffirmed the right to abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently awaiting action from the Supreme Court on two laws restricting abortion, which have been challenged as violations of that liberty right: a decision on whether the court will suspend a recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which threatens to shutter all but nine abortion clinics in Texas and whether the court will review Mississippi’s clinic shutdown law.