Obergefell v. Hodges

Last modified 2014.07.18

  • Status Closed
  • Type Amicus
  • Court U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Issues Fighting Discrimination, LGBTQ Equality, Racial Equality

Ohio amended its state constitution in 2004 to restrict the legal definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman, and further prohibited the recognition of a legal relationship that “approximate[s] the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.” Support for the amendment came mostly from religious organizations, and their arguments were couched in explicitly religious terms.

Several same-sex couples and an adoption agency challenged Ohio’s marriage ban. The federal trial ruled in their favor in April 2014, and the state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In May 2014, we joined with the Anti-Defamation League and a broad array of religious and cultural groups to submit an amicus brief in support of the couples.

This case was one of several marriage-equality cases argued before the Sixth Circuit at the same time. In November 2014, the Sixth Circuit became the first federal court of appeals to uphold a state law banning same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case, alongside other marriage cases in which we had joined amicus briefs—Bourke v. Beshear, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Tanco v. Haslam.

In March 2015, we filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court refuting the argument, often made by advocates of marriage bans, that permitting same-sex marriage would harm religious liberty in the United States. We explain that existing law provides a framework for accommodating the rights of both same-sex couples and religious objectors, and that recognizing the equal dignity of same-sex couples would not pose a threat to religious liberty.

The case was argued in April 2015.

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who got married in other states.

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