This year gay rights advocates were handed their biggest victory when the Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court came upon this decision after having found the bans on same-sex marriage in certain states to be unconstitutional, as it violated the 14th Amendment.
The struggle to legalize same-sex marriage began in 1972, when Richard Baker was denied a marriage license at a district court, on May 18, 1970. Their initial trial dismissed the case and ruled that the court clerk could refuse licenses to same-sex couples. This decision was appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court but met the same fate.
Many other same-sex cases in other states continued to be dismissed and denied the right to marriage until 1993. Hawaii’s Supreme Court ruled that denying same- sex couples is considered unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment.
This prompted Bill Clinton to sign the DOMA (Defence of Marriage Act) on September 21, 1996. This act discriminates
against married same-sex couples and deprives them of federal protections and responsibilities. This placed heavy restrictions on same-sex marriage and couples at a national level while prompting many states to pass anti same-sex marriage legislation. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first US state to allow same-sex couples the freedom of marriage.
Eventually, by the late 2000s, the movement was gaining support across the US, finally culminating in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. This case allowed same-sex couples across the country line up at courts in order to receive their marriage licenses.
The Supreme Court vote on this case was 5-4, resulting in victory of democracy and freedoms. The ban on same-sex marriage has been lifted in 13 states that had not yet legalized this. The Supreme Court’s final ruling now makes the United States the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, including territories.
Now, married same-sex couples are able to have the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples nationwide and will be recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates.