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Abstract

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, one of the most significant civil rights decisions in recent years. For many of our generation, the Court’s conclusion that same-sex couples enjoy the constitutional right to marry simply confirmed deeply held beliefs about the importance of marriage equality and inclusion for all. We recognize, however, that for American society more broadly, the decision has evoked strong feelings on both sides of the marriage equality debate. For some, Obergefell delivered a unique gift that was unimaginable even a few decades ago: the ability of same-sex couples to affirm their basic humanity, loving relationships, and standing in American society by exercising the right to marry the “person of one’s choice.” For others, the Court’s affirmance of the “equal dignity” of same-sex couples raises serious issues regarding religious freedom and, as the justices in dissent made clear, questions about the institutional role of the Supreme Court in our federalist system. Nevertheless, we are persuaded that Obergefell conveys a message about law, legal advocacy, and democracy that concerns us all, as the pictures of the White House awash in rainbow colors on the evening of “decision day” attest.

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