Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a crucial case that will address whether laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples are constitutional.
The case, Obergfell v. Hodges, will look at whether the 14th Amendment requires the state to allow and license a marriage for same-sex couples, and will address whether the Amendment requires the state to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples when their marriage was licensed out-of-state.
Legendary LGBT attorney Mary Bonauto and former assistant US solicitor general Douglas Hallward-Driemeier will be representing Jim Obergefell, who is the plaintiff in the case – a man who married his partner after the United States v. Windsor decision. The 2013 Supreme Court decision in Windsor stuck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a move that has paved the way for the current case.
“When Mary stands before the Supreme Court, she will not only be able to skillfully answer the justices’ questions, she will herself embody our answer,” Freedom to Marry Founder Evan Wolfson wrote in The Advocate. “We are strong and good. We are part of families and we build them. We love, we contribute, we dream. We have made the case, and we deserve the liberty and justice for all that America promises. It’s time for equal protection under the laws for all. It’s time for the freedom to marry.”
Most predictions expect a 5-4 vote in favor of upholding the rights of same-sex couples to get married and to have their marriage recognized out-of-state. Despite what seems like progress, many states are pushing hard against marriage equality. In Louisiana, for example, the state legislature is considering the Marriage and Conscience Act, which is designed to exclude same-sex couples. The Act would allow discrimination against same-sex couples from professional services, it would deny same-sex couples marriage benefits, and state contractors could turn down employment to gay people.
Oral arguments tomorrow will not immediately result in a decision. A decision is expected from the Supreme Court in June or early July. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the constitutional right to marry, then marriage equality will become law in all 50 states.
Media Resources: The Washington Post 4/27/2015; The Atlantic 4/27/2015; Human Rights Campaign 4/24/2015; Feminist Newswire 6/26/2013; SCOTUSblog; The Advocate 4/15/15