June 22, 2015

FAQ Update on the U.S. Supreme Court and Marriage Equality 

Which marriage equality cases is the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide?

On April 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard challenges to the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee bans on marriage for same-sex couples that had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Upon review, the Supreme Court consolidated six cases from these four states and is set to issue a ruling.

What is the ACLU's role in the marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court?

The ACLU represents clients in Kentucky and Ohio as co-counsel. The case in Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear, is a federal court challenge to Kentucky's constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples in which the plaintiffs are same-sex couples seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages. The case from Ohio, Obergefell v. Hodges, presents the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage validly licensed by another state.

When will the Court issue its ruling in the marriage equality cases?

Though it is difficult to predict when the Supreme Court will rule, it is commonly believed that a decision will be issued in the marriage equality cases by the end of June. We will alert our supporters about the Supreme Court's decision as soon as it is issued. If you have not signed up for our email alerts, you may do so here: https://action.aclu.org/secure/in-email-updates

What questions is the Court considering in these cases, and what are the possible outcomes?

The Court is considering whether the U.S. Constitution requires every state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and it is considering whether states must recognize and respect marriages that were performed in other states. While we hope that the Court issues a sweeping ruling in favor of marriage equality, there are several possible outcomes of the Court's decision, including:

  • A total win for same-sex couples, meaning the freedom to marry in 50 states
  • A split ruling: in which marriage equality is denied but marriage recognition is granted
  • A loss: in which the Sixth Circuit's decision is upheld and states are not required by the federal Constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry and are not required to recognize other states' marriages.

What will come next?

We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the ACLU that same-sex couples deserve the protections and respect that come with marriage. Regardless of how the Court rules, we will continue to fight for equal protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and public accommodations until these freedoms are fully recognized under law. If you have a specific situation where a government or private entity is not recognizing your marriage, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will determine if we can assist you.

The ACLU defends basic freedoms, every day, for every American. Support us with your tax deductible gift today.