Obergefell v. Hodges Case Brief

Facts of the case

Groups of same-sex couples sued their relevant state agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee to challenge the constitutionality of those states’ bans on same-sex marriage or refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages that occurred in jurisdictions that provided for such marriages. The plaintiffs in each case argued that the states’ statutes violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and one group of plaintiffs also brought claims under the Civil Rights Act. In all the cases, the trial court found in favor of the plaintiffs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed and held that the states’ bans on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize marriages performed in other states did not violate the couples’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process.


The Court held that the laws of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were held invalid to the extent they excluded same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. It explained that under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry. Moreover, same-sex couples can exercise the fundamental right to marry in all states. Thus, it follows that 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.

  • Advocates: Mary L. Bonauto for the petitioners on Question 1 Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. for the petitioners on Question 1 John J. Bursch for the respondents on Question 1 Douglas Hallward-Driemeier for the petitioners on Question 2 Joseph F. Whalen for the respondents on Question 2
  • Petitioner: James Obergefell, et al.
  • Respondent: Richard Hodges, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, et al.
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division
Citation: 576 US _ (2015)
Granted: Jan 16, 2015
Argued: Apr 28, 2015
Decided: Jun 26, 2015
Obergefell v. Hodges Case Brief