In a 5-4 ruling on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is part of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws, and therefore any state law that in any way limits this right is unconstitutional and void. The effect of the Court’s decision was to invalidate laws and constitutional provisions in 13 states defining marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.
This article will summarize the court’s ruling and then assesses its effects on churches and ministers.
The Supreme Court’s decision
The Court concluded that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. . . . State laws . . . are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”