In a case that could settle the issue of marriage equality in the US once and for all, the country’s Supreme Court will today hear oral arguments on legalising same-sex marriage.
In considering the Obergefell v. Hodges case, the court’s justices will decide if the US Constitution requires US states to allow two people of the same sex to marry.
If the highest court in the land says yes, as many expect it to, gays and lesbians will be able to tie the knot anywhere in the country, not just in the patchwork of states that have already legalised same-sex marriage.
Gay and lesbian couples can currently marry in 37 of the nation’s 50 states. According to a 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 59% of Americans support the right to marry for same-sex couples.
Critics have argued that allowing marriage equality will somehow diminish or undermine heterosexual marriage. Some have made outlandish claims that it will lead to more divorces and fewer heterosexual marriages and even result in a huge increase in the abortion rate – none of which has occurred in countries in which gay and lesbian marriage is allowed.
“The Supreme Court will be hearing constitutional arguments about same-sex marriage, but the justices should be attuned to the acceptance of marriage equality abroad,” commented Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch.
The organisation, along with the New York City Bar Association and several NGOs based in other countries, has submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in support of marriage equality.
The brief asks the court to consider countries such as Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa, which provide marriage licenses or similar regulatory permission to people of the same sex to marry.
“The experiences of countries where marriage equality is already a reality can bring a fuller understanding of what’s at stake,” said Reid.
Supporters of marriage equality have been urged to change their social media profile pictures to this logo
“Despite many predictions to the contrary, in the 18 countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised, life has continued as before with greater respect for everyone’s rights,” he noted.
America’s largest LGBT rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has called on LGBT people and their allies to “turn the internet red” with a red version of the group’s logo to show their support for marriage equality.
The same logo was used by supporters on social media in 2013, when the Supreme Court delivered groundbreaking decisions in support of same-sex marriage; striking down a discriminatory federal law and allowing same-sex marriage in California.
“The facts are clear, the arguments have been heard by dozens of courts, and now the nine justices of the Supreme Court have an urgent opportunity to guarantee fairness for countless families, once and for all,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
The US Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in June.