James Obergefell and Rick Hodges faced off in front of the Supreme Court in the landmark marriage equality case Obergefell v Hodges, but this time they’re on the same side.
The two men – who were the plaintiff and the defendant in the case – have jointly announced that they oppose the nomination of right-wing extremist Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Obergefell sued after Hodges, in his role as director of Ohio’s Department of Public Health, refused to recognize Obergefell’s marriage to his now-deceased husband. Hodges, a Republican, supports marriage equality, but the state’s constitution outlawed same-sex marriages.
The men, who became friends after the case was decided, will give a joint press conference with Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-XY) along with the interim leader of Family Equality, Denise Brogan-Kator. Obergefell works for the group as a fundraiser.
The two haven’t joined forces before for any other cause.
During her confirmation hearings, Barrett merely stated that the Supreme Court’s decision exists. She neither stated whether she agrees with it nor whether she thinks same-sex marriage should be illegal.
Barrett said twice in her confirmation hearings that her rulings as a Supreme Court Justice would be bound by the legal precedent established by the Obergefell decision. She also said, when questioned by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, that she doubted any case trying to outlaw same-sex marriage would ever make it to the Supreme Court because lower courts would be bound by the same legal precedent.
But what she didn’t mention was that the Supreme Court is still receiving cases seeking to chip away at same-sex marriage rights. In 2018, the Supreme Court heard a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court didn’t definitely rule in that case whether people can discriminate against same-sex couples on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. It remains an unresolved matter that the court will have to address during Barrett’s tenure.
The court already has another case about same-sex marriage rights facing it: Fulton v. Philadelphia, a case that asks whether tax-payer funded religious adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse same-sex couples.
Gay Republicans have tried to spin Barrett’s non-answer as support for same-sex marriage despite her previous vocal opposition to marriage equality.