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Obergefell v. Hodges

Supreme Court of the United States

April 28, 2015, Argued 1; June 26, 2015, Decided

Nos. 14-556, 14-562, 14-571, 14-574


 [*2593]  Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.

These cases come from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, [***12]  and Tennessee, States that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. See, e.g., Mich. Const., Art. I, §25; Ky. Const. §233A; Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3101.01 (Lexis 2008);  [**619]  Tenn. Const., Art. XI, §18. The petitioners are 14 same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased. The respondents are state officials responsible for enforcing the laws in question. The petitioners claim the respondents violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have their marriages, lawfully performed in another State, given full recognition.

Petitioners filed these suits in United States District Courts in their home States. Each District Court ruled in their favor. Citations to those cases are in Appendix A, infra. The respondents appealed the decisions against them to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. It consolidated the cases and reversed the judgments of the District Courts. DeBoer v. Snyder, 772 F. 3d 388 (2014). The Court of Appeals held that a State has no constitutional obligation to license same-sex marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of State.

The petitioners sought certiorari. This Court granted review, limited to two questions. 574 U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 1039; 190 L. Ed. 2d 908 (2015). The first, presented by the cases from Michigan and Kentucky, is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage [***13]  between two people of the same sex. The second, presented by the cases from Ohio, Tennessee, and, again, Kentucky, is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a State which does grant that right.

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135 S. Ct. 2584 *; 192 L. Ed. 2d 609 **; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 4250 ***; 83 U.S.L.W. 4592; 99 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P45,341; 115 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 2015-2309; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 472

JAMES OBERGEFELL, et al., Petitioners (No. 14-556) v. RICHARD HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, et al.VALERIA TANCO, et al., Petitioners (No. 14-562) v. BILL HASLAM, GOVERNOR OF TENNESSEE, et al.APRIL DeBOER, et al., Petitioners (No. 14-571) v. RICK SNYDER, GOVERNOR OF MICHIGAN, et al.GREGORY BOURKE, et al., Petitioners (No. 14-574) v. STEVE BESHEAR, GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Subsequent History: Costs and fees proceeding at, Motion granted by, in part, Motion denied by, in part, Sub nomine at Tanco v. Haslam, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39403 (M.D. Tenn., Mar. 25, 2016)


Deboer v. Snyder, 772 F.3d 388, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 21191 (6th Cir.), 2014 FED App. 275P (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Mich., 2014)

Disposition: 772 F. 3d 388, reversed.


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