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Respondents’ argument that allowing same-sex couples to wed will harm marriage as an institution rests on a counterintuitive view of opposite-sex couples’ decisions about marriage and parenthood. (c) The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ Nos. A From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage.Finally, the First Amendment ensures that religions, those who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths. Since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character. 14–556, 14-562, 14-571 and 14–574 _________________ JAMES OBERGEFELL, delivered the opinion of the Court. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life.
Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.
To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.
And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.
I These cases come from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, States that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. This view long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.
The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. The petitioners acknowledge this history but contend that these cases cannot end there.
The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. This does not mean that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. States have contributed to the fundamental character of marriage by placing it at the center of many facets of the legal and social order.
Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate. There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle, yet same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage and are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would find intolerable.
Each District Court ruled in petitioners’ favor, but the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed. (a) Before turning to the governing principles and precedents, it is appropriate to note the history of the subject now before the Court. To the respondents, it would demean a timeless institution if marriage were extended to same-sex couples. (2) The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change.
: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. But the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the petitioners’ own experiences. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential.
A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.
The intimate association protected by this right was central to , 268 U. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life.
This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experience with gay and lesbian rights. Courts must exercise reasoned judgment in identifying interests of the person so fundamental that the State must accord them its respect.