UPDATE April 28, 10:30 a.m.You can access a full audio file of the arguments via our audio player to the right.
The United States Supreme Court has concluded hearing oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that could strike down same-sex marriage bans nationwide.
At issue in the case is whether states should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether they should recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in other states. But also at the center of Obergefell is whether the U.S. Constitution has jurisdiction over a cultural institution as entrenched as marriage. That, at least, has been a sticking point for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is seen as the swing vote in the nation's highest court on this particular issue. Kennedy described marriage as an institution that "has been with us for millennia."
Other justices were less ambiguous in their positions, with Justice Stephen Breyer describing the right to marriage as fundamental, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan saying that same-sex marriage poses no threat to the heterosexual marriages. But Chief Justice John Roberts said that same-sex couples are "not seeking to join the institution [of marriage]. You are seeking to change the institution."
Find this morning's full oral arguments here.
ORIGINAL POST April 27
The nation's highest court will hear oral arguments beginning April 28 in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that would decide whether states should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether those states should be required to recognize same-sex marriages licensed and performed out of state.
Obergefell v. Hodges stems from a lawsuit targeting Ohio's same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs allege that the state's ban discriminated against same-sex couples by not recognizing a same-sex union performed outside of Ohio.
The case progressed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Ohio's ban did not violate the U.S. Constitution, with Judge Jeffrey Sutton writing in the majority opinion that the issue of marriage is a question for voters and the states. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on Jan. 16.
Idaho's own same-sex marriage ban, enacted overwhelmingly by voters in 2006, was overturned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale in May 2014, kicking off months of legal disputes. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter requested—and received—$1 million from the Idaho Legislature to defend the ban all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. The case, Latta v. Otter, only went as far as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, which ruled that the Gem State's own ban was unconstitutional, adding that it was "archaic" and "unjustifiable."
- Laurie Pearman
- Madelynn Taylor outside the Idaho Veterans Cemetery
The two were married in Boardman, Ore., in 1996, and again at the San Bernardino Courthouse in 2008. When Mixner died in 2012, Taylor was denied the right to inter her partner at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery on account of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Taylor's story made The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Taylor secured same-sex burial rights in October 2014.
Her story isn't over, yet. In December 2014, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden wrote that in the wake of the ruling to strike down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban, Taylor's lawsuit against the state was "moot" and the court should dismiss her case. Taylor's attorneys were of a different opinion, arguing that without a clear ruling in her favor the state could remove Mixner's remains from the Veterans Cemetery after Taylor's death. Taylor's civil case against the state remains unresolved.