In a 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that same-sex couples fundamentally have equal protections under the Constitution.
The Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all 50 states to both license a marriage and recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex. The opinion of the Court, delivered by Justice Kennedy, reads that “marriage is fundamental under the Constitution,” and applies “with equal force to same-sex couples.”
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of live, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” wrote Justice Kennedy. “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… They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
Previously, only 37 states had provisions allowing same-sex marriage. Along with marriage equality, this morning’s Supreme Court decision affords same-sex couples many state and federal benefits, including benefits in taxation, inheritance and property rights, hospital access, medical decision-making authority, birth and death certificates, worker’s compensation benefits, and more.
“When President Obama took office in 2008, only two states recognized legal marriage for same-sex couples. Now the nation does,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “At last, SCOTUS recognizes that love is love, and that all 50 states must recognize marriage equality.”
Republican leaders are digging their heels in and showing their determination to fight against marriage equality and Obamacare, which was upheld by the Supreme Court just yesterday. Already, the majority of Republican presidential candidates have come out against the Supreme Court’s decisions on both issues. As GOP Republican National Committee leader Reince Priebus said, “As a Party, we believe in the importance of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
While feminists and activists everywhere are celebrating, many are also keeping in mind the many areas of discrimination that LGBT communities face. For example, 29 states lack explicit protections for LGB individuals, and 32 states lack explicit protections against discrimination for transgender individuals or based on gender identity. As the Center for American Progress writes, “in 16 states and counting, same-sex couples can legally marry and then be legally fired from their jobs, evicted from their apartments, denied credit, refused hotel rooms, and discriminated against in education all because of their sexual orientation.”
Media Resources: Opinion Obergefell et al V. Hodges 6/26/15; Center for American Progress 3/9/15; GOP Press Release 6/26/15; Jezebel 6/26/15; Feminist Newswire 4/27/15