Case Study: Obergefell Vs. Hodges

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Grace Nelson
PSC 2302- Case Analysis Project

The case that I studied is Obergefell v. Hodges, which took place earlier this year (2015). This case, and the other ones surrounding it, asked whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. In this particular case, James Obergefell was the plaintiff, suing against the state of Ohio. Obergefell met his partner, John Arthur two decades ago. After Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011, the men decided to marry and fully commit to each other before Arthur’s death from the fatal disease. They were married in Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal, just three months before Arthur’s death. Because Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages, Obergefell was not able to be named on Arthur’s death certificate as surviving spouse. The suit was filed in an attempt for Obergefell to be listed in this way.
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The case looks to the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause to determine whether same-sex couples have the right to marry, and whether the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. The case was decided and the judges ruled in a 5-4 majority that it is Unconstitutional for states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, or to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed out-of-state. Justices that voted in favor of the decision are Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. The dissenting Justices are Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and
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