Supreme Court: Marriage is a fundamental right for gay couples

In a historic development for gay rights and the institution of marriage, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry.

Specifically, the 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges declares that the 14th Amendment requires all states to perform same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The ruling extends marriage rights to gay couples in the 14 remaining states where same-sex marriage was previously prohibited. It also validates lower-court rulings in 20 states where marriage bans were struck down by federal judges.

The recent series of court rulings striking down marriage bans, culminating with this Supreme Court ruling, reflects a growing national acceptance of same-sex marriage. A February CBS News poll showed that 60 percent of Americans said it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry. More than half, 56 percent, said same-sex marriage should be left up to the states, though support for that position dropped eight points from a year earlier.

By protecting same-sex marriage nationally, the court is ensuring that same-sex couples are entitled to same state benefits that all married couples receive, in every state. In the Obergefell v. Hodges case, plaintiff Jim Obergefell was specifically seeking the right to be listed on his husband’s death certificate. Obergefell and his longtime partner John Arthur were legally married in Maryland in 2013, when Arthur was terminally ill. However, since their home state of Ohio did not recognize same-sex marriages, the state refused Obergefell’s request to be listed on Arthur’s death certificate.

When CBS News’ Jan Crawford asked Obergefellearlier this year what Arthur would think of the ongoing legal battle, Obergefell said, “I think — I know — he’s proud. I know he would thank me for living up to my promises to him, for living up to my marriage vows to fight for him, to love him, to honor him and to protect him.”

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