Supreme Court Decides that Love Can’t Wait

By Hunter Davis and Matthew Meyer, Summer 2015 Leadership Conference Education Fund Interns

In a historic 5-4 decision on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling extended the right to marry to more than 3 million people across the 13 states that previously denied the right. With this ruling, the U.S. becomes the twenty-first country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Same-sex couples are now free to marry in all 50 states, and will be entitled the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

The ruling came on a historic date. Twelve years ago to the day, the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas, and just two years ago, the Court found the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional in U.S. v. Windsor. The Obergefell decision also falls two days before the anniversary of the historic Stonewall riots, which are widely considered to be the starting point of the modern LGBT rights movement.


Activists wait in anticipation of the Obergefell decision.

But this decision is by no means the end of the fight for LGBT equality. In the absence of comprehensive federal antidiscrimination laws, or an adequate solution for our nation’s LGBT teen homelessness problem, it’s clear that the struggle for LGBT equality is not over. Members of Congress, along with a coalition of civil rights groups (including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights), issued a statement just hours after the Court’s decision echoing the need for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections. By advancing these protections, Congress can begin to address “unfinished work” in the wake of Obergefell.

Although the Obergefell decision may not have solved every problem LGBT Americans face, it has certainly moved our nation closer to that great ideal inscribed on the Supreme Court’s facade: “equal justice under law.” As Justice Kennedy acknowledged in the last paragraph of the Opinion of the Court, LGBT citizens “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

And as Obama put it in his Rose Garden speech on Friday, “today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shift in hearts and minds is possible.”