Later in the century, cultural and political developments allowed same-sex couples to lead more open and public lives. (1) The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed. 810, a one-line summary decision issued in 1972, holding that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage did not present a substantial federal question. (2) Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.Extensive public and private dialogue followed, along with shifts in public attitudes. (b) The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Applying these tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution. But other, more instructive precedents have expressed broader principles. This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.A ruling against same-sex couples would have the same effect and would be unjustified under the Fourteenth Amendment. TOP Opinion NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. The petitioners claim the respondents violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have their marriages, lawfully performed in another State, given full recognition. The second, presented by the cases from Ohio, Tennessee, and, again, Kentucky, is whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a State which does grant that right.The petitioners’ stories show the urgency of the issue they present to the Court, which has a duty to address these claims and answer these questions. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. Petitioners filed these suits in United States District Courts in their home States. Citations to those cases are in Appendix A, , 772 F. The Court of Appeals held that a State has no constitutional obligation to license same-sex marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of State. This Court granted review, limited to two questions. II Before addressing the principles and precedents that govern these cases, it is appropriate to note the history of the subject now before the Court.
Confucius taught that marriage lies at the foundation of government. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission.The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. There are untold references to the beauty of marriage in religious and philosophical texts spanning time, cultures, and faiths, as well as in art and literature in all their forms. To them, it would demean a timeless institution if the concept and lawful status of marriage were extended to two persons of the same sex.The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. This wisdom was echoed centuries later and half a world away by Cicero, who wrote, “The first bond of society is marriage; next, children; and then the family.” See De Officiis 57 (W. It is fair and necessary to say these references were based on the understanding that marriage is a union between two persons of the opposite sex. Marriage, in their view, is by its nature a gender-differentiated union of man and woman.This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect.
Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness. History and tradition guide and discipline the inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.
Finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the Nation’s social order. It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation’s society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage. (3) The right of same-sex couples to marry is also derived from the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.