Five years since the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage in this country legal, around 300,000 same-sex couples have wed. The June 26, 2015 ruling added to the day’s significance, which already has a decades-long history in the battle for LGBTQ rights.
On June 26, 2003, the highest court in the country overturned a Texas statue making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct.
In the ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government.”
Ten years later, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued their ruling on United States v. Windsor, stating that a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
In that ruling, Justice Kennedy wrote, “DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.”
In 2013, 12 states and the District of Columbia recognized same-sex marriages. Just two years later, that number was at 37 states and the District of Columbia. Then on June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage became legal across the country in Obergefell v. Hodges.
“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. 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,” the ruling states.
Articles written at the time of the ruling wondered if June 26 would become a national holiday to mark the significance of the decisions on this day.
In 2017, on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples should both be listed on birth certificates in Pavan v Smith. Arkansas at the time said only biological parents could be listed on birth certificates.
Already in 2020, the justices have ruled that a bar on sex discrimination in the workplace extends to gay, lesbian and transgender workers.