Major SCOTUS Decision for Marriage in Obergefell v Hodges

Supreme Court will make an important decision in the ongoing same-sex marriage debate with the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

Over 30 cases hang in the balance that will be facing the Supreme Court by the end of this month. The case on everyone’s mind, however, is the Obergefell v. Hodges case in Ohio. The story of the couple involved in this case seems to have resonated with many groups and individuals around the nation. Together for 20 years, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur felt a sense of urgency to get married in spite of having chosen not to. In Ohio, same-sex marriage is currently illegal, and they don’t recognize unions from outside states. Depending on the Supreme Court’s decision, states may be forced to recognize same-sex marriages from outside states.

John Arthur and Jim Obergefell

When Arthur and Obergefell married, they did so on a medical jet in Baltimore. It was a celebratory union in spite of Arthur’s crippling condition: ALS.  Their choice to marry coincided with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. “With John’s death approaching, it just gave us more of an impetus and more of a desire to have our relationship validated and recognized,” said Obergefell, though he admits they likely would have gotten married regardless since they’d been together for 20.5 years. As the condition worsened, he became bedridden and mostly immobile. When they married, he could only speak and move his right hand and head. They felt amazing “having the government recognition of our relationship. Having the government say you exist, you count.”

Their next mission was in Ohio, where they aimed to have his death certificate say “married”. The court ruled that it was okay, however the following year, the court appealed and won. If Obergefell wins the new appeal with the higher court, Ohio will be required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Thousands Take Sides Showing their Support or Condemnation

Over 7,500 pages have been submitted for the cases that are to be held this month. Obergefell v. Hodges alone has the highest number of filings seen since the 2012 Affordable Care Act case. The briefs were submitted by those who were for it, as well as those against it. Among the many groups to submit briefs, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent in a statement discouraging same-sex marriage and promoting traditional marriage.

The largest brief was from the President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. It was signed by many different groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Many religious groups in support of same-sex marriage said that not all views speak for all religions, adding that thousands of historic Christian leaders have views that challenge the old opinions of homosexuality. Others emphasize the number of Americans who feel their faith compels them to accept others, including LGBT citizens. Many republicans wrote that “the marriage bans challenged here target gay and lesbian couples, and their families, for injurious governmental treatment.”


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