Supreme Court Will Hear Ohio Marriage Cases Brought by Lambda Legal, ACLU and Gerhardstein & Branch

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January 16, 2015

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the Ohio marriage lawsuits brought by Lambda Legal, the ACLU and Gerhardstein & Branch seeking to compel the State of Ohio to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.

With today’s announcement that Henry v. HodgesObergefell v. Hodges and all other cases from the Sixth Circuit Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee will be heard, the high court has set the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality for same-sex couples across the country. Oral argument before the Supreme Court could occur early in 2015.

Listen to a teleconference from the day the Court accepted these cases moderated by Lambda Legal's Director of Education and Public Affairs, Leslie Gabel-Brett, featuring Jon Davidson, Legal Director, and Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director:

Meet one of the couples in the case:

Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal, said:

We are ready to make our case before the Supreme Court to end these discriminatory bans once and for all. The state of Ohio shouldn’t be allowed to disrespect lawful marriages of same-sex couples within its state borders and certainly shouldn’t be allowed to meddle with family matters in states that do respect the marriages of same-sex couples. In fact, no state in the country should continue this disgraceful discrimination.

Henry v. Hodges, filed in February 2014, and Obergefell v. Hodges, filed in July 2013, demonstrate the importance of marriage to families through the life span, from the birth of their children through the death of a spouse and beyond. The Henry plaintiffs seek respect for their out-of-state marriages, including recognition for both spouses as parents of the couples’ children, on birth certificates and through life. The Obergefell plaintiffs are widowers fighting to be listed on the death certificates of their deceased husbands, who they married out of state. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding discriminatory marriage bans in Ohio, as well as Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, was the first federal circuit court ruling after the Supreme Court’s watershed 2013 Windsor decision to uphold such bans, departing from recent decisions from the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits.

James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, said:

We are thrilled the Court will finally decide this issue. The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly. Every single day we wait means more Americans are harmed by the denial of full marriage rights – more people die before they have a chance to marry, more children are born without proper protections, more people face medical emergencies without being able to count on recognition of their spouses. It is time for the American values of freedom and equality to apply to all couples.

Al Gerhardstein, of Gerhardstein & Branch, said:

Three beautiful babies have been born to our plaintiffs since we filed this case. Those children plus an adopted toddler, their parents and thousands like them must not be relegated to any second class status. Surely the Constitution protects them. We look forward to presenting our arguments on behalf of our plaintiff families and all Ohio same-sex couples in front of the highest court in the land. The security that comes from accurate birth certificates is immeasurable, and no one should be denied that security because they are born to same-sex parents. Nor should grieving spouses be denied recognition on the death certificates of their loved ones.

Read the press release.