April 28, 2015
The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments today in the four marriage equality cases collectively known as Obergefell v. Hodges.
At 10 a.m. Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, will address Question 1, as formulated by the Court, “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?” She is representing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Michigan, as well as Kentucky couples Tim Love and Lawrence Ysunza, and Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James.
Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, partner in the law firm Ropes & Gray, will address Question 2, as formulated by the Court, “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”
Co-counsel on the four cases are Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as many private attorneys.
The oral arguments mark a significant legal and cultural moment for the country, capping nearly twenty-five years of legal challenges, grassroots activism, legislative advocacy, and steady change in public opinion in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in which same-sex couples could legally marry as a result of GLAD’s case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which Bonauto argued and won.
Since 2004, 36 more states and the District of Columbia have enabled same-sex couples to legally marry through court cases, legislation, and ballot questions. Significantly, in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the case Windsor v. United States of America. That decision opened the door to a wave of successful federal district and appellate court decisions affirming the freedom to marry for same-sex couples across the nation.
Bonauto is a member of the legal team for the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder, with co-counsel Dana Nessel, Carole Stanyar, Kenneth Mogill, and Robert Sedler. She has also helped to organize amicus briefs for numerous marriage cases across the country. GLAD’s challenges to DOMA, Gill v. OPM and Pederson v. OPM, both spearheaded by Bonauto, also produced the first rulings from a federal court that DOMA was unconstitutional, setting the stage for Windsor.
A decision in Obergefell is expected near the end of June.
More information can be found at www.glad.org/marriage.