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A ruling against same-sex couples would have the same effect and would be unjustified under the Fourteenth Amendment. TOP Opinion NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. The petitioners claim the respondents violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have their marriages, lawfully performed in another State, given full recognition. The second, presented by the cases from Ohio, Tennessee, and, again, Kentucky, is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a State which does grant that right.
The petitioners’ stories show the urgency of the issue they present to the Court, which has a duty to address these claims and answer these questions. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. Petitioners filed these suits in United States District Courts in their home States. Citations to those cases are in Appendix A, , 772 F. The Court of Appeals held that a State has no constitutional obligation to license same-sex marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of State. This Court granted review, limited to two questions. II Before addressing the principles and precedents that govern these cases, it is appropriate to note the history of the subject now before the Court.
A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.
The intimate association protected by this right was central to , 268 U. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life.
The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. This does not mean that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. States have contributed to the fundamental character of marriage by placing it at the center of many facets of the legal and social order.
Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate. There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle, yet same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage and are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would find intolerable.
I These cases come from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, States that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. This view long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. (1) The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed. 810, a one-line summary decision issued in 1972, holding that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage did not present a substantial federal question. (2) Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.
Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes. (b) The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Applying these tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution. But other, more instructive precedents have expressed broader principles. This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.
Finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order. It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation’s society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage. (3) The right of same-sex couples to marry is also derived from the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.
The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way. 374, where the Court invalidated a law barring fathers delinquent on child-support payments from marrying. The challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and they abridge central precepts of equality.Questions about the legal treatment of gays and lesbians soon reached the courts, where they could be discussed in the formal discourse of the law. Numerous same-sex marriage cases reaching the federal courts and state supreme courts have added to the dialogue. This abiding connection between marriage and liberty is why , at 574.