Victory! In Landmark Ruling Supreme Court Strikes Down Bans on Marriage for Same-sex Couples

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June 26, 2015

In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s decision invalidates all state statutes and constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marriage. Lambda Legal was co-counsel in one of the landmark cases decided today.

Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart said:

What a glorious day for equality, justice and love. For the first time, LGBT people in America will live in a nation that respects their love and their families. June 26 is a day that will stand out forever as a day of victory in the history of the LGBT rights movement in America.  On this very day in 2003, Lambda Legal won Lawrence v. Texas, a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling striking down state laws that made lesbian and gay people criminals for having private intimate relationships. And two years ago on this day, the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in U.S. v. Windsor. Today, the Constitution and our democracy shine brightly again. While marriage equality is an important landmark victory, our ‘To-Do’ list remains long. Today we celebrate—tomorrow we get back to work.  We still need to fight for protections in the workplace, for people with HIV, and for LGBT youth and for justice and equality for transgender people.  And, of course, we are prepared for resistance in some states as same-sex couples seek the marriage rights and responsibilities the Court has determined are theirs under our Constitution. Congratulations to the plaintiff couples and families who stood up for all of us, and to our partner organizations – the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) as well as the wonderful private counsel who joined with us in bringing these cases and, ultimately, winning them before the Supreme Court. This represents the culmination of decades of hard work by all, and we are all enormously grateful and proud.

Today’s ruling came in six cases out of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals collectively known as Obergefell v. Hodges, challenging discriminatory state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.

Alphonse Gerhardstein said:

We are thrilled! With this decision, Ohio must now recognize the marriages of same-sex couples married elsewhere.  And soon same-sex couples will be able to marry in Ohio as well.  The babies born to and adopted by our plaintiff couples will no longer be blocked from having both parents listed on their birth certificates.  Full legal protection for their families and for families across the country has arrived.  This is truly an historic day!   We stand ready to seek full and prompt implementation of this ruling.

The six cases on review before the Court included: two Ohio cases, Obergefell v. Hodges, where the ACLU joined with Gerhardstein & Branch, and Henry v. Hodges, where Lambda Legal joined Gerhardstein & Branch;

DeBoer v. Snyder, a Michigan case litigated by private counsel and GLAD; Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, two Kentucky cases litigated by private counsel and the ACLU; and Tanco v. Haslam, a Tennessee case litigated by private counsel and NCLR.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU, NCLR and GLAD, along with other civil and LGBT rights organizations and pro bono private counsel, have been fighting for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples for decades. Lambda Legal first fought for marriage equality in Hawaii almost 20 years ago, won a unanimous decision allowing same-sex couples to marry from the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009, and has successful litigated many other marriage lawsuits, including in Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Nevada, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

View the opinion here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/henry_oh_20150626_opinion

Read the press release.