In a verdict that has been anticipated for months, the Supreme Court has ruled that states must not prohibit same-sex couples from getting married and must recognize their partnerships. The vote count was 5-4.
The case’s swing justice, Anthony Kennedy, penned the majority opinion. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, together with Chief Justice John Roberts, all penned separate dissenting opinions.
Equal respect under the law is what same-sex couples, represented by Kennedy, are seeking, he said. “They have that right because of the Constitution.”
NPR’s Nina Totenberg likens the verdict to other landmark rulings, saying, “Whether you support or oppose abortion rights, this case, along with Roe v. Wade and today’s Obergefell v. Hodges, is surely historic. This was a pivotal point in history.”
Bans On Homosexual Marriage At The State Level
Same-sex marriage is prohibited in both the statutes and constitutions of many states. Both constitutional and statutory prohibitions can be found in the family laws of certain states.
Professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield Jason Pierceson told NBC News that “most of them are still on the books, though they are not enforceable.”
Pierceson argued that the shift to democratic control of legislatures provided an opening for the repeal of some prohibitions. That’s a major distinction between Indiana and Virginia, you could say.
According to Pierceson, there were two distinct eras during which same-sex marriage was outlawed. The first of these began in the 1970s when homosexual couples sought marriage licenses and were granted them by numerous state judges. Because of this, lawmakers have made an effort to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Maryland was the first state to pass such a law, doing so in 1973. Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma all passed laws along the same lines in 1975, while Florida, California, Wyoming, and Utah did the same in 1977.
In response, Utah was the first state to adopt a legal ban on same-sex marriage in 1995, and a year later, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which established the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. As a result, Pierceson claims, “nearly every state,” with the exception of New Mexico, had a “statutory ban on same-sex marriage” by the year 2000. He pointed out that these “mini-DOMAs” prohibited homosexual marriage inside state law and family codes rather than the federal constitution.
Where Do Most Same-Sex Couples Live?
Four states, including California, Texas, Florida, and New York, are home to more than one-third of the nation’s married same-sex couples.
Marriages between people of the same sex are more common in the states of the Northeast and the West. With 6% of all marriages, the number of same-sex unions is highest in the nation’s capital. The largest percentage of same-sex married households may be found in Delaware and Massachusetts, out of all 50 states.
While data on same-sex weddings at the city level is lacking, there is evidence to suggest that same-sex households as a whole are more likely to be found in urban areas. At least 2% of all paired households were same-sex couples in 2019 across 10 major cities. The San Francisco Bay Area topped the list with 2.8%.
When Was Same-Sex Marriage Legalized In The US?
The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case because it was brought there by same-sex couples who filed suit against state agencies in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee for violating their constitutional right to marry.
The same-sex marriage prohibitions passed in several of these states are part of a larger national movement in reaction to a request for a constitutional amendment to outlaw the practice by former President George W. Bush.
Adoption By People Of The Same Gender
According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex adoption in 2003, but progress toward nationwide adoption equality has been slow.
A statute in Mississippi that made it illegal for homosexual couples to adopt was struck down in 2016 by a federal district court, as reported by the Washington Post. In reaching its judgment, the court referred to the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.
The Supreme Court struck down a statute in Arkansas in 2017 that would have made it illegal for adoption documents to fail to specify the parents’ gender. Formerly, same-sex couples needed a court order to have both names on a child’s birth certificate, but that has now changed, as reported by AP News.
As Kennedy pointed out, marriage has not been preserved in a vacuum from changes in the law and society. His argument provides a broad outline of the development of marriage concepts alongside the advancement of women’s rights.
Kennedy saw parallels between this change and the way society has come to see homosexuals and lesbians, noting that “a honest revelation by same-sex couples of what was in their hearts had to remain quiet” for many years.