See Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.The petitioners, 14 same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased, filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that respondent state officials violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have marriages lawfully performed in another State given full recognition. (1) The history of marriage as a union between two persons of the opposite sex marks the beginning of these cases.They fell in love and started a life together, establishing a lasting, committed relation.In 2011, however, Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect.Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. History and tradition guide and discipline the inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.Rights implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always co-extensive, yet each may be instructive as to the meaning and reach of the other. Indeed, recognizing that new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality within fundamental institutions that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged, this Court has invoked equal protection principles to invalidate laws imposing sex-based inequality on marriage, see, , 539 U. The marriage laws at issue are in essence unequal: Same-sex couples are denied benefits afforded opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. (4) The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. (5) There may be an initial inclination to await further legislation, litigation, and debate, but referenda, legislative debates, and grassroots campaigns; studies and other writings; and extensive litigation in state and federal courts have led to an enhanced understanding of the issue.Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial works a grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate gays and lesbians. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. The State laws challenged by the petitioners in these cases are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. While the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, individuals who are harmed need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.
The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way. 374, where the Court invalidated a law barring fathers delinquent on child-support payments from marrying. The challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and they abridge central precepts of equality.Respondents’ argument that allowing same-sex couples to wed will harm marriage as an institution rests on a counterintuitive view of opposite-sex couples’ decisions about marriage and parenthood. (c) The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ Nos. A From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage.Finally, the First Amendment ensures that religions, those who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths. Since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character. 14–556, 14-562, 14-571 and 14–574 _________________ JAMES OBERGEFELL, delivered the opinion of the Court. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life.A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.The intimate association protected by this right was central to , 268 U. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life.Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. (1) 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 defining personal identity and beliefs. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed. 810, a one-line summary decision issued in 1972, holding that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage did not present a substantial federal question. (2) Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes. (b) The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Applying these tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution. But other, more instructive precedents have expressed broader principles. This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.Recounting the circumstances of three of these cases illustrates the urgency of the petitioners’ cause from their perspective.Petitioner James Obergefell, a plaintiff in the Ohio case, met John Arthur over two decades ago.The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. This does not mean that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. States have contributed to the fundamental character of marriage by placing it at the center of many facets of the legal and social order.Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate. There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle, yet same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage and are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would find intolerable.