On June 26, 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court passed a landmark law, Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court declared the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
The Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage was voted as number one religion story of 2015 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association in its annual Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year poll.
The law had huge implications gay couples. Why? It’s simple! Same-sex couples desire marriage for the same reasons others do – for legal security, to publicly celebrate their commitment, to provide greater legal protection for their children, or to simply publicly celebrate their love.
Before the same-sex marriage law was passed, discussion was huge in the public arena. However, focus on personal feelings of same-sex couples was given little attention – especially to how the gay community reacted personally during the lengthy fight for legality.
A woman we’ll call Jenny offers us a good example of this personal struggle. Jenny had been in a same-sex relationship for many years. While she loved her partner dearly, Jenny desperately desired to marry and have a child. Jenny had high hopes for a same-sex law to be enacted, but as time passed and the public argument raged on and on, Jenny lost hope. She began to suffer severe, and untreated, depression, which she did her best to hide from everyone, including her partner. One evening, in desperation, Jenny swallowed some pills and drove her car into a lake. Fortunately, a man spotted her and was able to save her life. Six months later – during which time Jenny sought psychological and spiritual counseling – the same-sex law was passed. When Jenny had regained her health, she and her partner married in a public ceremony with loved ones in attendance and, within a year, had adopted a beautiful baby girl.
In Common Health, a study was mentioned that looked broadly at the connections between legal recognition of same-sex relationships and mental health, psychologist Gregory Herek, an expert on LGB mental health, summarized this field of research by writing, “marriage bestows many psycho-social benefits and protections. As a consequence of being denied the right to marry, same-sex couples are more likely than different-sex couples to experience a variety of stressors and thus are at a greater risk for psychological and physical illness.”
As Stephen H. Dinan wrote in an article for the Huffington Post, “The movement for gay marriage is, at the deepest level, a movement for the psychological and spiritual growth of our country.”
As we celebrate passage of the same-sex marriage law, let’s keep in mind people like Jenny who simply want to enjoy the same Constitutional rights as we all do. Each and everyone of us deserves freedom, justice and liberty afforded to us by our nation’s forefathers.
Sources in part:
Religion News Service