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Today: Oral Argument Begins on Marriage in the Supreme Court

Statement from Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality PA:

Today’s oral argument at the Supreme Court is an historic moment that caps a collective decades-long movement for the freedom to marry. The question at issue is whether all people, including same-sex couples, are given the freedom to marry under the constitution. We believe that all loving and committed couples should have the freedom to marry—and we are very hopeful that the court will agree.

It is time now for the Supreme Court to finish the job on marriage, and get our country on the right side of history. The Supreme Court should affirm the lower courts and the majority of Americans and rule in favor of the freedom to marry for all. The country is ready.

However, even while we are hopeful for the freedom to marry for all Americans, we are concerned for the LGBT community here in Pennsylvania where you can get married on Sunday, and get fired on Monday just for being gay or transgender. So that’s why we are focused here in Pennsylvania on updating our law to be sure that all people who have the freedom to marry are also protected from discrimination at work, in housing, and in business services.


In the past two years, 65 federal and state courts across the country have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry. The 6th Circuit is the only court of appeals since Windsor to rule that the freedom to marry can constitutionally be denied to same-sex couples.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in April 2015 shows that 61% – a supermajority – of Americans support the freedom to marry. A February CNN poll shows that 63% of Americans believe marriage for same-sex couples is a constitutional right. A Williams Institute analysis shows, in fact, that in states where the freedom to marry is legal, support accelerates the fastest.

Same-sex couples can marry in nearly three-fourths of the country, but 13 states still ban marriage for same-sex couples. This patchwork of marriage discrimination in America is unsustainable, burdening businesses as well as families.

Opponents’ arguments against the freedom to marry simply lack logic, let alone evidence, as a cascade of courts – including many conservative judges appointed by Reagan and both Bushes – and a majority of Americans have now come to see. Laws that single out same-sex couples and their families for unequal treatment cannot be squared with the core constitutional principles of equality and liberty.


On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in marriage cases out of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. The cases being heard are:

Obergefell v. Hodges and Henry v. Hodges – “Respect for out-of-state marriages” cases from Ohio.
Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear – Respect and freedom to marry cases from Kentucky.
DeBoer v. Snyder – Freedom to marry case from Michigan.
Tanco v. Haslam – Respect case from Tennessee.

Mary Bonauto of GLAD (Gay & Lesbians Advocates & Defenders) will present the case that same-sex couples’ freedom to marry is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Douglas Hallward-Driemeier of Ropes & Gray will present the case that states must respect same-sex couples’ lawful marriages celebrated in other states.



With 60,000 members across the commonwealth, Equality Pennsylvania is the leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pennsylvanians.

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