Obergefell v. Hodges

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Obergefell v. Hodges
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided June 26, 2015
Appealed from 6th Circuit
Reaffirmed Zablocki v. Redhail
Cited Loving v. Virginia


James Obergefell & his partner John wanted to marry. John was wheelchair-bound & terminally ill. At the time, they lived in Ohio where same-sex marriage was banned. Therefore, they married in Maryland where same-sex marriage was recognized.

When John passed away, Ohio upheld its same-sex marriage ban. Ohio state officials refused to list James as John's surviving spouse on the death certificate.

Procedural History

Obergefell & 13 others sued the officials of the state of Ohio for the ban on same-sex marriage.

Obergefell loses at the 6th Circuit.


1. Does the 14th Amendment require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?

2. Are states required to recognize lawful out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples?


Marriage is key to

  1. tax benefits
  2. inheritance benefits
  3. evidentiary privileges
  4. medical decision-making authority

Clarence Thomas dissented by noting that the Due Process Clause (DPC) doesn't provide a basis for creating new substantive rights.

Antonin Scalia noted that the ruling was un-democratic because the majority of Americans in 2015 rejected same-sex marriage. He called the majority opinion "a threat to American democracy."


The United States Constitution prohibits states from denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

Same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all the states of the United States.


The right to choose whether & whom to marry is inherent in individual autonomy.