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. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972) must be and is overruled, and Mich. Const. art. I, § 25, Ky. Const. § 233a, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3101.01 (2008), and Tenn. Const. art. XI, § 18 are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.
Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Fourteen same-sex couples, and two men whose same-sex partners were deceased, filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that respondent state officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have marriages lawfully performed in another State given full recognition. Each District Court ruled in petitioners' favor, but the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed.
Did the state officials violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying same-sex couples the right to marry?
The Court held that under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry. Laws of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were held invalid to the extent they excluded same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. Because same-sex couples can exercise the fundamental right to marry in all states, it follows that 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. The Court reversed the judgment of the Sixth Circuit.