As a married, heterosexual female I don’t have to worry about the validity of my relationship being questioned at every turn.
I don't have to worry about my marriage not being valid as we move from one state to another. I don't have to worry about my husband not being able to visit me in the hospital. I don't have to worry about my husband not receiving custody of our children, should I meet an untimely death.
For the estimated six million homosexual people living in the United States, their relationships do not have the same security. But that may be about to change.
On April 28, the Supreme Court of the United States will begin hearing arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is poised to be a landmark case. If the plaintiffs are successful, homosexuals will be able to marry in all 50 states.
On July 11, 2013, John Arthur and James Obergefell traveled to Maryland to be married after 21 years together, because they were not legally able to say their vows in their home state of Ohio. There was some urgency, as Arthur was at the end stages of his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Before Arthur passed away just a few months later, one of his last requests was to have his death certificate reflect the fact that he was married, with Obergefell listed as his surviving spouse.
Unfortunately, Ohio's ban on gay marriages prevented that. After losing the man he loved, Obergefell sued the director of Ohio's Department of Health, Richard Hodges, to have his name listed on the death certificate. The case has now made it up to the Supreme Court.
Essentially, SCOTUS will have to determine the answer to these two questions:
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
The court could ultimately find that both of these are unconstitutional, which would finally bring true marriage equality to the U.S. Obergefell's case is tied in with three other similar cases from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.
The argument against Obergefell's lawsuit is that states should have a right to define their own criteria for marriage licenses, as there are also state-to-state differences regarding an applicant's age or familial ties. Additionally, many of these bans on equality were decided by voters. SCOTUS will have to rule on whether it's constitutional for the majority to withhold rights from minorities based on votes.
SCOTUS is expected to return a decision in June.
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[Header image: iStock/mangostock]