In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, LGBTQ activists are concerned that same-sex marriage could be next.
That’s why on Tuesday, June 7, LGBTQ Victory Institute held a press call to advocate for the codification of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The event featured Utah State Sen. Derek Kitchen, lead Supreme Court plaintiff Jim Obergefell, and New Jersey Assemblyman Donald Guardian.
In addition, Kitchen announced he has filed a bill to codify same-sex marriage in Utah. His intent is to take the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case that legalized same-sex marriage nationally, and turn it into Utah law. Currently, Utah state code only upholds marriage between a man and woman.
“I am the only openly LGBTQ member of the entire Utah legislature,” Kitchen said. “I’m here today with the simple ask that the Utah legislature and legislatures all over the country protect our families and codify marriage equality in their state.”
“I’m here today with the simple ask that the Utah legislature and legislatures all over the country protect our families and codify marriage equality in their state.”
Throughout the United States, Kitchen said, “there are 29 states that have constitutional amendments that ban marriage equality or civil unions and 31 states that ban marriage equality or other types of unions, Utah being one of those states, which I’m trying to address today.”
Obergefell said he was alarmed when he read Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. One quote in particular troubled him.
“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Alito argued. “That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’ The right to abortion does not fall within this category.”
Obergefell said there has not been a long history of marriage equality in the United States. Gay marriage was only legalized in 2015, and interracial marriage wasn’t legalized until 1967.
“The fundamental right to marriage was only mentioned by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia,” Obergefell said. “Our nation has a much longer history of denying interracial couples the right to marry than they have a history or tradition of saying they have a right to marry.”
“Our nation has a much longer history of denying interracial couples the right to marry than they have a history or tradition of saying they have a right to marry.”
As a result, Obergefell said this precedent could lead to states to file cases against Obergefell v. Hodges, and if it were overturned, any trigger laws banning same-sex marriage would become valid. This is the same fear abortion rights advocates have about overturning a federal right to abortion, which would activate state-level bans already passed.
“All across the United States, my own state included, Ohio, we still have our Defense of Marriage Act on the books, and should marriage equality be overturned, those states could potentially really say, ‘You can no longer get married, and we will no longer respect or recognize out of state marriages.’ So this is a very important issue for us to talk about,” Obergefell said.
Kitchen said people should contact their state officials and ask lawmakers to take a stand now.
“We know there’s great unpredictability with the current Supreme Court,” he said. “We cannot project exactly what will come, and we don’t want to cause panic, but we do need to take proactive steps to ensure that … the LGBTQ community all over the country is protected and that our families are safe, secure and respected.”