PRIDE FACT 17
The road to the Marriage Equality Act of 2015
A Growing Call for Equality - Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage began to pop up across the country in the 1990s, and with it challenges on the state and national levels. Civil unions for same-sex couples existed in many states but created a separate but equal standard. At the federal level, couples were denied access to more than 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities associated with the institution, as well as those denied by their given state. The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law in 1996 and defined marriage by the federal government as between a man and woman, thereby allowing states to deny marriage equality.
New Century, New Beginnings - As the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas struck down sodomy laws in 2003, another victory was celebrated as Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage via a court ruling. On the federal level, however, efforts continued to prevent equality from becoming a reality. President Bush announced his opposition to same-sex marriage while the House introduced a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Rising Support Signals Hope - States from coast to coast began striking down past bans and enshrining marriage equality in new laws. California famously achieved marriage equality in 2008, only to have it dismantled again by the introduction and passage of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that updated the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, that same year. The amendment later was disputed in lower-level courts before making its way to the Supreme Court
A Turning Point for Change - Only a few years after President Obama declared DOMA unconstitutional, — and instructed the Justice Department to stop defending it in court — the Supreme Court advanced marriage equality through key decisions in 2013. Hollingsworth v. Perry determined Prop. 8 lacked legal standing while United States v. Windsor deemed DOMA unconstitutional — all but paving the way to full equality.
Marriage Equality Becomes a Reality - The moment for full marriage equality finally arrived on June 26, 2015, with the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. In a landmark 5-4 decision, marriage equality became the law of the land and granted same-sex couples in all 50 states the right to full, equal recognition under the law.