Obama Administration urges SCOTUS to rule in favor of the freedom to marry in the United States

Friday, March 6, the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court urging the Justices to rule in favor of the freedom to marry this summer.

The brief explained why the marriage bans from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan deserve heitghtened scrutiny from the Court:

The marriage bans challenged in these cases impermissibly exclude lesbian and gay couples from the rights, responsibilities, and status of civil marriage. These facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted. The bans cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of “equal protection of the laws,” U.S. Const. Amend. XIV.


The marriage bans at issue here cannot survive heightened scrutiny because they are not substantially related to an important governmental objective. Respondents’ contention that the marriage bans encourage biological parents to jointly raise children ignores the many non-procreative aspects of marriage, assumes counterintuitively and without evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry would discourage opposite-sex couples from staying together, and unjustifiably disfavors children raised by same-sex couples by denying those couples the same incentives to remain together. Respondents’ contention that the marriage bans further a state interest in proceeding with caution before departing from the traditional understanding of marriage echoes similar arguments advanced, and properly rejected, in other contexts, such as integration of public facilities and interracial marriage. And respondents’ contention that the marriage bans return the issue of marriage to the democratic process simply begs the question whether those bans exceed the limits that the Equal Protection Clause imposes.

The Obama Administration ended its support for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in 2011. On January 23, 2015, President Obama said in an interview, that he hoped that "the Supreme Court comes to the right decision" this summer regarding the freedom to marry.

In February, the Obama Administration announced a plan that would ensure Social Security benefits to all legally married same-sex couples, regardless of which state they live in.

On January 16, the United States Supreme Court announced that this year, they will hear arguments in a case on the question of whether same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry and if anti-marriage laws nationwide should be struck down as unconstitutional. The Court granted review of an out-of-step ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which ruled in November against the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. In each of these cases, federal judges had ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for all, and the 6th Circuit reversed each decision.

Oral arguments in this case will be heard on April 28.