The United States Supreme Court has held that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires every state to license a marriage between people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage lawfully licensed and solemnized in another State. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court reflected on how the same sex petitioners – residents of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, where state law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman – seek to celebrate marriage, not devalue it, and desire to marry because of their respect and need for the privileges marriage provides and the responsibilities it requires.
By ruling that a state must license a marriage between two people of the same sex, the Court has profoundly affected the lives of gays, lesbians, and their children. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution provides that, when a state’s law is inconsistent with federal law, federal law prevails.
As a result of today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, state laws that deny people of the same gender a right to marry, deny recognition to same sex marriages performed in another state, deny a married person the right to adopt her same sex spouse’s child, do not recognize the parental rights of a same sex married couple to a child conceived during their marriage through artificial reproductive means, or deny recognition to a widowed spouse in a same sex marriage, implicitly have been declared unconstitutional.
Pioneers, like our clients, Lisa and Christine Maxwell, who challenged such laws and obtained a judgment in Palm Beach Circuit Court declaring that Lisa was the parent of the daughter who Christine bore during their marriage, can celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief for their daughter and for all the loving same sex couples – and their children – who want to be legally recognized as families in America