U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Cases Challenging Marriage Bans for Same-Sex Couples

April 28, 2015 8:30 am

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in cases that challenge laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee barring same-sex couples from marrying and recognition of marriages of same-sex couples performed out of state. Today’s hearing sets the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union represents plaintiffs in Kentucky cases Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, and in Ohio case Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges. Petitioners in these cases argue that state marriage bans violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“The families in these cases range from couples who have been together since the early 1990s and have raised children together, to surviving spouses who seek the dignity of being named on death certificates. Their stories and others across America are the reason public opinion has changed so rapidly on marriage,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. “The Supreme Court, like more than 50 courts that have ruled in favor of marriage equality since DOMA was struck down in 2013, should recognize that the time has come to make full marriage equality the law of the land.”

In January 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of an aberrant Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld discriminatory marriage bans in the four states – the first court to do so after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor decision.

“When my late husband John and I received the devastating diagnosis in 2011 that John had ALS, we knew that like Edie and Thea, our fight would continue after John died,” said Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges. “Every family deserves the peace of mind of knowing that they will be able to take care of each other in good times and bad, until death parts them. I continue to fight for John’s last wish to have our marriage respected.”

Plaintiffs across these cases seek the dignity and protections that come only with marriage. “In every sense we are a family except Kentucky recognizing our marriage and thus the parentage of our two children,” said Michael DeLeon, plaintiff in Bourke v. Beshear.

Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Doug Hallward-Driemeier of Ropes & Gray LLP made the argument before the court today for the rights of same-sex couples. A decision is expected in June 2015.

More information about the Kentucky cases is available at:

More information about the Ohio case is available at:

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