Mr. Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs Cincinnati, Ohio June 26, 2013 Jim Obergefell reads a news story online about the Supreme Court decision in a case known as United States v. Windsor. In that case, the Court decided that part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. This meant that same-sex married couples could have federal benefits as long as they were married in states where same-sex marriages were legal. Jim turned to his boyfriend of more than 20 years, John Arthur, who was laying in bed. Arthur could no longer walk due to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which was quickly destroying his body. Obergefell kissed Arthur on the forehead and said, “let’s get married.” “Ok,” Arthur replied. They chose Maryland as the state to get married in, as same-sex marriage was illegal in their home state of Ohio. Turning to friends and family on Facebook, the couple raised $13,000 to have an ambulance take them to the airport, where they then boarded a medically equipped plane to the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, just outside Baltimore. On that day, July 11, 2013, they were married inside the plane on the tarmac. Unfortunately, once they returned to Ohio, they learned that Jim would not be listed on John’s death certificate as his surviving spouse. The reason? Ohio didn’t recognize their marriage for any purpose at all. So Jim and John sued John Kasich. Ok, so really they sued the state of Ohio, but Kasich was the governor so his name went down as the defendant. And it was really just Jim at this point as John was too weak to act. Jim argued that Ohio discriminated against same-sex couples who had married legally outside of the state. On July 22, the District Judge, a dude named Timothy Black, recognized the marriage, preventing Ohio from leaving John’s name off the death certificate after he died. Just three months later, John Arthur did pass away. While Jim’s name indeed did appear as John’s surviving spouse on the death certificate, Ohio had appealed this to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. As it turns out, several others were suing their states for the same reason. The Sixth Circuit combined six different decisions from four different states. Jim Obergefell’s case was just one of the six. On November 6, 2014, by a vote of 2-1, the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the states with the laws banning same-sex marriage. It cited the Supreme Court case Baker v. Nelson, a decision which said states can limit marriage to persons of the opposite sex, as justification for their ruling. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote: “Not one of the plaintiffs’ theories…makes the case for constitutionalizing the definition of marriage and for removing the issue from the place it has been since the founding: in the hands of state voters.” Jim and all the others challenging the state same-sex marriage bans appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court agreed to hear four of the same-sex marriage cases that directly challenged state laws banning same-sex marriage. One of these was Obergefell v. Hodges. Wait a sec. Who is Hodges? Hodges was the new dude appointed by Kasich to be Ohio’s health director back in August 2014, so yay, now his name gets to randomly go down in history! Obergefell v. Hodges became the lead case and that’s why this video is called Obergefell v. Hodges. Anyway, all of those challenging the same-sex marriage bans argued such bans went against the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment. One group even brought claims under the Civil Rights Act. The Court heard oral arguments on April 28, 2015. During arguments, the justices considered two big questions: 1: Does the 14th Amendment mandate that a state give a marriage license to two people of the same sex? 2: Does the 14th Amendment mandate that a state recognize a marriage of two people of the same sex who were legally married in another state? During arguments, it was clear this would be another close one divided along ideological lines. Justices Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts seemed to go back and forth, however. Kennedy proved to be the crucial fifth vote. On June 26, 2015, exactly two years after Jim Obergefell asked John Arthur to marry him, the Court announced a 5-4 decision in their favor. The Court argued that the 14th Amendment not only required all states to recognize same-sex marriages in other states, but to recognize all same-sex marriages. Yep, just like that, it legalized same-sex marriage and overturned Baker v. Nelson. The Court held that marriage is a fundamental right to same-sex couples, as protected by the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Writing for the majority and putting his reputation on the line as he has traditionally been one of the more conservative justices on the Court, justice Kennedy wrote: It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right” It’s important to note that the four justices who dissented weren’t necessarily against gay marriage. They generally just thought it wasn’t the Court’s job to decide on this matter. The Constitution did not grant them such power, and so they argued it should be left to the states. I know it only happened, what two years ago, but this is one of the most important Supreme Court cases in American history. There was some pushback in certain states, and in some counties they don’t even issue marriage licenses at all to get around it, but overall this decision is not as controversial as you might think. One recent Gallup poll showed that 61% of Americans support gay marriage. When Gallup polled in 1996, that number was 27%. Today, Jim Obergefell remains a public figure, and still goes around giving speeches, honoring and remembering his late husband, John. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury!