- On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled FOR marriage equality - that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories, with the exception of American Samoa. The status for American Samoa is still to be determined.
- LOVE WON AT SCOTUS 26 JUNE 2015
- MARRIAGE EQUALITY FAQ
- 9 July 2015, Attorney General Lynch Announces Federal Marriage Benefits Available to Same-Sex Couples Nationwide - Press Release for the United States Department of Justice
- 21 September 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted. Georgia Representative Bob Barr, then a Republican, authored DOMA. Though his official political position was against same-sex marriage, President Bill Clinton criticized DOMA as "unnecessary and divisive," while his press-secretary called it "gay baiting, plain and simple." However, after Congress had passed the bill with enough votes to override a presidential veto, Clinton signed DOMA into federal law.
- On 26 June 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.
- On 14 August 2014, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution "that recognizes the rights of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as basic human rights around the world and condemns laws, regulations, rules and practices that discriminate against them on the basis of their status while encouraging the U.S. government to work to end this discrimination."
- 6 October 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States did not grant cert for any of 7 marriage equality cases from 5 states that had submitted petitions (asked for review/appealed).
- 18 December 2014, Justice Department Will Now Support Transgender Discrimination Claims In Litigation - By Chris Geidner, BuzzFeed News: "Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department’s position going forward in litigation will be that discrimination against transgender people is covered under the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
- 16 January 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States granted cert to all four marriage cases from the 6th Circuit - see Obergefell v. Hodges under LAWSUITS RESOLVED.
- 10 February 2015, Full Transcript Of BuzzFeed News’ Interview With President Barack Obama - BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith sat down with President Barack Obama. Twenty-two minutes, eighteen questions.
Legislation - Pending
Author/Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon in the Senate + 40 co-sponsors, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline in the House + 157 co-sponsors
Date Introduced: 23 July 2015
- 23 July 2015, Broad Federal LGBT Rights Bill Would Also Address Religious Freedom, Transgender Restroom Use - By Dominc Holder, BuzzFeed News
HR 2802, SB 1598 - First Amendment Defense Act
Author/Sponsor: Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) for the House and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) for the Senate
Date Introduced: 18 June 2015
- This bill would give federal employees and contractors the right to sue the federal government if they oppose marriage equality.
- The congressional lawmakers sponsoring the bill say it would protect "religious freedom." Under the bill, agencies would be prohibited from denying grants, tax exemptions, certifications or licenses because of a business or individual’s belief that marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples. (In other words, it would legally protect the right to discriminate.)
- 9 June 2015, Republicans Introduce 'First Amendment Defense Act' To Shield Those Who Oppose Same-Sex Marriage - By Jean Ann Esselink, The New Civil Rights Movement
Author/Sponsor: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
Date Introduced: 22 April 2015
- 22 April 2015, GOP bill would block courts on marriage equality - By Lydia Wheeler, The Hill
- 15 May 2015, Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Author/Sponsor: Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts)
Dates Introduced: 29 January 2015; June 2014
- 10 December 2014, Sen. Merkley announces plans to introduce LGBT civil rights bill - By Justin Snow, Metro Weekly
- 29 January 2015, re-introduced in both houses. This bill was filed during the last congressional session, but never came to the floor for a vote.
- 29 January 2015, Reintroduction of the International Human Rights Defense Act in Congress - By Jeremy Kadden, Senior International Policy Advocate, HRC Blog
- 30 January 2015, Dems Introduce LGBT Rights Bill In Both Houses - By Jean Ann Esselink, The New Civil Rights Movement
- 15 February 2015, AFGE Labor Activists Support International Human Rights Defense Act - AFGE Press Release
- The Human Rights Defense Act would give new tools to the U.S. State Department that would allow it to react to discrimination and violence toward LGBT communities worldwide. It would immediately create a special envoy within the State Department to respond to reports of violence toward LGBT communities globally. It would also require the State Department to create a LGBT section in their annual country by country report on human rights. The bill also calls for congress to adopt a global strategy to address discrimination against the LGBT community.
Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) - H.R. 2523, S. 1236
Author/Sponsor: 2013 Author/Sponsor Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and 174 co-sponsors. The 2015 sponsors are U.S. Senator Feinstein and U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Dates Introduced: 6 January 2015; 26 June 2013; 16 March 2011; 15 September 2009
- The Respect for Marriage Act is a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and require the U.S. federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.
- In addition to repealing DOMA, the legislation would establish a method for the federal government to determine whether a marriage is valid for federal purposes, a legal dilemma known as choice of laws.
- This bill was originally introduced to the 111th Congress by U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York on 15 September 2009 and garnered 120 cosponsors.
- It was next introduced to the 112th Congress by Representative Nadler on 16 March 2011, and a U.S. Senate version was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California the same day.
- President Obama announced his support for the bill on 19 July 2011.
- In September 2011, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida became the 125th cosponsor of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Republican member of the U.S. Congress to announce support for the bill.
- The bill's sponsors decided not to reintroduce the Respect for Marriage Act in 2013 until the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in United States v. Windsor. They introduced it to the 113th Congress on 26 June 2013, the same day the Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
- On 26 June 2014, H.R. 2523 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and S. 1236 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- 15 July 2013 Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. (The 113th Congress ended on 3 January 2015.)
- 6 January 2015, this bill was re-introduced to the new Congress by U.S. Senator Feinstein and U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. RMA would fully remove the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from the books and establish a clear rule for the federal government that all married same-sex couples – regardless of what state they currently live in – have access to equal rights, benefits, and protections under federal law.
- “From social security benefits to veterans benefits, DOMA continues to harm families across the country,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for HRC. “Every legally married couple - no matter where they live - should have access to the full federal benefits and protections they deserve. It’s far past time for DOMA to be completely repealed once and for all. We applaud Senator Feinstein and Representatives Nadler and Ros-Lehtinen for their tireless commitment to fully repealing this discriminatory and antiquated statute.”
Legislation - Enacted
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Author/Sponsor: U.S. Representative from Georgia Bob Barr (then a Republican)
Date Introduced: May 1996
Date Enacted: 21 September 1996
- The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states.
- Section 2. Powers Reserved to the States: No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
- Section 3. Definition of Marriage: In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. (Ruled unconstitutional by SCOTUS on 26 June 2013)
- Until Section 3 of the Act was ruled unconstitutional on 26 June 2013, DOMA, in conjunction with other statutes, had barred same-sex married couples from being recognized as "spouses" for purposes of federal law, effectively barring them from receiving 1,138 federal marriage benefits. DOMA's passage did not prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex marriage, but it imposed constraints on the benefits received by all legally married same-sex couples.
- Initially introduced in May 1996, DOMA passed both houses of Congress by large, veto-proof majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in September 1996. By defining "spouse" and its related terms to signify a heterosexual couple in a recognized marriage, Section 3 codified non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes.
- Clinton and many key legislators later actively advocated for DOMA's repeal.
- Advocating for the repeal of DOMA was a key point in Barrack Obama's 2008 campaign for president.
- The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had concluded Section 3 was unconstitutional and that although the administration would continue to enforce the law while it existed, it would no longer defend the law in court.
- In United States v. Windsor (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Lawsuits - Pending
On 28 April 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the combined marriage cases from the 6th Circuit.
The SCOTUS marriage ruling was issued on 26 June 2015. Obergefell v. Hodges has been moved to LAWSUITS-RESOLVED below.
Lawsuits - Resolved
- 26 June 2015, Transcript of President Obama’s remarks on marriage ruling - From The Boston Globe
26 June 2015, In historic decision, Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage: In Plain English - By Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog
- 26 June 2015, Opinion analysis: Marriage now open to same-sex couples - By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
- 28 July 2015, SCOTUS issued Judgment in the 6th Circuit cases (Obergefell).
"THESE CAUSES came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the above court and were argued by counsel.
"ON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, it is ordered and adjudged by Court that the judgment of the above court are reversed with costs."
- 26 June 2015, live as of 2:00pm ET on June 26: Marriage Equality Facts
- 26 June 2015, read/download/print the SCOTUS/Obergefell ruling in full.
- 26 June 2015, WE WON! LOVE WON! Majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 6-3. Per @SCOTUSblog, the Court's opinion relies on the dual rationales of fundamental rights AND equal protection and seems to go out of its way not to state a standard of scrutiny. "...the majority opinion rejects the claim that marriage is about procreation, even while saying that protecting children of same-sex couples supports the Court's ruling: "This is not to say that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any State." READ THE RULING
- 22 June 2015, Infographic: Possible Supreme Court Marriage Equality Outcomes - From Lambda Legal
- 1 June 2015, SCOTUS Marriage Ruling #DecisionDay Events - By John Mattras, MEUSA News Blog
- 29 April 2015, From the Steps of the United States Supreme Court -By John Lewis, MEUSA News Blog
- 28 April 2015, “Super-cuts” from same-sex marriage arguments - By Tejinder Singh, SCOTUSblog
- 28 April 2015, A view from the Courtroom, Same-Sex Marriage Edition - By Mark Walsh, SCOTUSblog
- 28 April 2015, No clear answers on same-sex marriage: In Plain English - By Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog
- 28 April 2015, transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 2
- 28 April 2015, Transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 1
- 28 April 2015, Live blog: Obergefell v. Hodges oral argument updates - By Kali Borkowski, SCOTUSblog
- 27 April 2015, Same-sex marriage, in Plain English — Part I - By Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog
- 26 April 2015, Same-sex marriage: The decisive questions - Analysis by Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
- 17 April 2015, the plaintiffs' reply briefs were filed - see under each case in next section below.
- 30 March 2015, per EQCF, who will argue at the Supreme Court on April 28:
- MARY L. BONAUTO on Question 1 (marriage licenses)
- DOUGLAS HALLWARD-DRIEMEIER on Question 2 (recognition)
- Question 1: John J. Bursch, a former Michigan solicitor general
- Question 2: Joseph F. Whalen, a Tennessee associate solicitor general
Petitioners' Designation of Counsel letter to Supreme Court
Reuters article describing process used to select plaintiffs' attorneys
- (Links to all four briefs in article, as well as listed below under each case.)
- 17 March 2015, Petitioners (plaintiffs) in the Supreme Court marriage cases made a formal request for divided argument time. As indicated in the letter linked below, the Solicitor General has asked for argument time for Question One only.
Petitioners propose the following time allotments:
Division of the 45 Minutes allocated to Petitioners on Question 1 (issuing licenses):
- 15 minutes for DeBoer (Michigan)
- 15 minutes for Bourke (Kentucky)
- 15 minutes for Solicitor General
Division of the 30 Minutes allocated to Petitioners on Question 2 (recognition):
- 15 minutes for Obergefell (Ohio)
- 15 minutes for Tanco (Tennessee)
- 6 March 2015, Marriage Equality USA Submits Amicus Brief to SCOTUS
- 5 March 2015, it was announced that Oral Argument in the marriage cases is scheduled for Tuesday, 28 April 2015. Audio will be released the same day: "The Court will provide the audio recording and transcript of the oral argument in 14-556, Obergfell v. Hodges, and consolidated cases, on an expedited basis through the Court’s Website. The argument is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, April 28 from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. [ET]
"The Court will post the audio recording and unofficial transcript as soon as the digital files are available for uploading to the Website. The audio recording and transcript should be available no later than 2 p.m. on April 28.
"Anyone interested in the proceedings will be able to access the recording and transcript directly through links on the homepage of the Court’s Website. The Court’s Website address is www.supremecourt.gov."
- 16 January 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States granted cert to (agreed to review) all four marriage cases from the 6th Circuit, Order List
- 14-556 OBERGEFELL, JAMES, ET AL. V. HODGES, RICHARD, ET AL. from Ohio
- 14-562 TANCO, VALERIA, ET AL. V. HASLAM, GOV. OF TN, ET AL. from Tennessee
- 14-571 DeBOER, APRIL, ET AL. V. SNYDER, GOV. OF MI, ET AL. from Michigan
- 14-574 BOURKE, GREGORY, ET AL. V. BESHEAR, GOV. OF KY, ET AL. from Kentucky
Questions the Court ordered the parties to address:
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? (90 minutes of oral argument allocated)
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? (60 minutes of oral argument allocated)
The parties were limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions.
DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), 14-571
Chronological background info for the marriage cases reaching SCOTUS:
- 7 November 2014, it was announced that the couples from the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee marriage cases all will be seeking SCOTUS review.
- 14 November 2014, Henry v. Hodges and Obergefell v. Hodges (Ohio marriage cases) plaintiffs filed a Joint Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking SCOTUS to reverse 6th Circuit decision. Lambda Legal/ACLU Press Release
- 14 November 2014, Tanco plaintiffs (Tennessee marriage case) filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking SCOTUS to reverse 6th Circuit decision. NCLR Press Release
- 17 November 2014, the DeBoer v. Snyder plaintiffs (Michigan marriage case) filed their Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court, seeking reversal of 6th Circuit decision. Note that GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders)'s Mary Bonauto has joined the legal team.
- 17 November 2014, the Bourke v. Beshear plaintiffs (Kentucky marriage case) filed their Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court, seeking reversal of 6th Circuit decision. All four 6th Circuit states have now filed with SCOTUS!
- 20 November 2014, the Robicheaux v. George plaintiffs (Louisiana marriage case) filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court.
- 2 December 2014, Momentum builds for review of same-sex marriage - By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
- 17 December 2014, Idaho to take same-sex marriage case to Court - By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
- 17 December 2014, SCOTUS listed the petition from Louisiana for Robicheaux v. Caldwell for consideration at its 9 January 2014 conference. None of the other petitions currently before the Court in the marriage cases have been listed yet. The last distribution list for the Jan. 9th conference will be created on 23 December 2014.
- Amicus Briefs filed with the Supreme Court in the marriage cases, supporting the grant of cert:
Amicus Brief of 76 Scholars of Marriage (including Regnerus) supporting Review and Affirmance. Filed in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana marriage cases; supporting the defendants.
15 December 2014, Amicus Brief of COLAGE, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry and PFLAG in support of respondents. Filed in marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.
- 23 December 2014, all of the the 6th Circuit marriage cases - Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee - are scheduled for the 9 January 2014 Supreme Court Conference. Also on the list for this conference (previously reported) is the petition for cert before judgment in the Louisiana case.
You can see the dockets at the Court here:
- Michigan: http://1.usa.gov/1yl0aFh
- Kentucky: http://1.usa.gov/1rfijSt
- Ohio: http://1.usa.gov/13tWqDP
- Tennessee: http://1.usa.gov/1CwKQqU
- Louisiana: http://1.usa.gov/13cuGna
- 9 January 2015, per Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog, the Court did not grant cert to (take for review) any new cases following their private conference today. The orders that were issued today were routine. New orders will be released on Monday, 12 January 2015. Stay posted!
- 12 January 2015, SCOTUS denied cert to Louisiana's Robicheaux before the 5th Circuit rules (see page 20 on Orders list), but took no action on the cases from the 6th Circuit. UPDATE: The Court has officially listed all four 6th Circuit marriage cases for consideration at their conference on Friday, 16 January 2015.
- 16 January 2015, cert granted to all four marriage cases from the 6th Circuit!
Windsor v. United States
Case #: 12-307
Date Filed: 11 September 2012
Ruling Date: 26 June 2013
- Edith Windsor filed a lawsuit against the United States government challenging the governments assertion that she pay $363,053 in taxes on the estate left to her by her late wife Thea Spyer – taxes not required of heterosexual couples. The case ended up before the United States Supreme Court, which found in her favor (5-4 decision) and ruled that the federal definition of marriage as only between a man and women was unconstitutional, thereby striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Ruling in full.
- 25 June 2014, Edie Windsor (Part 1): Early Advocacy with MEUSA
- 10 July 2014, Edie Windsor (Part 2): Life and Love Before Stonewall
- 24 July 2014, Edie Windsor (Part 3) - A Love Affair With the Gay Community
Baker v. Nelson
Case #: 71-1027
Date Filed: 1970
Ruling Date: 10 October 1972
- 18 May 1970, two University of Minnesota gay student activists, Richard Baker and James Michael McConnell, applied for a marriage license in Minneapolis. The clerk of the Hennepin County District Court, Gerald Nelson, denied the request on the sole ground that the two were of the same sex.
- The couple filed suit. The trial court, quashing an alternative writ of mandamus, ruled that respondent was not required to issue a marriage license to petitioners and specifically directed that a marriage license not be issued to them.
- On 15 October 1971, the Supreme Court of Minnesota affirmed the trial court’s decision and ruled that “Minn. St. c. 517 does not authorize marriage between persons of the same sex and that such marriages are accordingly prohibited.”
- The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- 10 October 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order stating, "The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question." Since this case came to SCOTUS through mandatory appellate review, the summary dismissal was a decision on the merits of the case.
- 8 October 2014, LGBTQ History Month: Jack & Mike, Our Pioneers
- 21 April 2015, Poll: Americans Say There's No Turning Back On Marriage - By Susan Page, USA Today via HuffPost Gay Voices "In a nationwide USA Today/Suffolk University Poll, those surveyed say by 51 percent-35 percent that it’s no longer practical for the Supreme Court to ban same-sex marriages because so many states have legalized them."
- 18 March 2015, Sixty-nine percent of American voters — including 51% of Republicans — want a federal law that prohibits discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a new national poll released. News Source Poll Details
- 10 March 2015, the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 59% of Americans support allowing same-sex marriage, nearly double the 30% support reported in 2004. News Source
- 19 February 2015, 63% of Americans say that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry and have their marriages recognized by the law as valid per new CNN International Poll. Poll Details
- 17 February 2015, The most surprising marriage poll we’ve seen in a while - By Aaron Blake, The Fix, Washington Post. NOTE: The polling is from a variety of states, this is not a single national poll.
- 22 January 2015, a new Gallup poll shows that Satisfaction With Acceptance of Gay People Plateaus at 53% News Source Poll Details