On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. Specifically, the Supreme Court cited both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause in their decision that ultimately requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to validly recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
The Due Process Clause:
Due Process addresses the administration of justice. It acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the United States government outside of the sanction of law. The Due Process Clause ensures that all levels of American government must operate within law and provide fair procedures.
The Equal Protection Clause:
The Equal Protection Clause guarantees that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws enjoyed by other persons or classes in like circumstances.
Same-sex marriage has brought forth controversy on an international scale. 22 countries around the world now legally recognize same-sex marriage.
|Brazil||France||The Netherlands||South Africa|
Opponents of same-sex marriage hold that the definition of marriage has traditionally been defined as being between a man and a woman. Opponents believe that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation and ultimately, children will need both a mother and a father to raise them. However, the concept of “traditional marriage” is constantly changing. Marriage and the opportunity to found a family are internationally recognized human rights. Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights encompasses a non-discrimination principle that has time and again been interpreted by United Nations treaty bodies and numerous inter-governmental bodies as prohibiting discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. It is a principle that has since become internationally recognized.
Furthermore, denying same-sex couples the option to marry creates a division within our society. Denying same-sex couples the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples essentially deems same-sex couples unworthy of participation in one of the most fundamental institutions of our society. There are 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections administered to married couples in federal law alone. Same-sex couples would be denied benefits such as family health coverage, hospital visitation during an illness, etc.
Really, one of the most central arguments opponents of same-sex marriage support is that same-sex marriage goes against the word of God. Same-sex marriage is incompatible with the beliefs and practices of several religious groups. It’s vital we recognize legal marriage is a secular institution. Religious institutions should not dictate marriage laws for society.
Shamim Butt-Garcia, Summer Associate