Pride 2015 was a Pride like no other.
Timed just before the late-June Pride celebrations was the June 26 announcement: Same-sex marriage was the law of the land.
In a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to the decision, 36 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Obergefell decision took it nationwide.
But it didn’t happen overnight. It was the pinnacle of years of lobbying and legal work by untold numbers of LGBTQ people and their supporters.
The 2015 case consolidated six lower-court cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
It was further validation for heroes like Edith Windsor, who fought for and won her benefits as the widow of a same-sex spouse. Just two years before, in June 2013, the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor was a shining predictor of what might come.
It was the culmination for groups like Freedom to Marry, founded and led by Evan Woodson, who’d written his 1982 Harvard Law School thesis on the topic.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Obergefell majority opinion. His words, memorialized across newspaper front pages the next day, became part of many a wedding ceremony after the decision.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Kennedy wrote.
“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.
“The Constitution grants them that right.”