A year ago today, marriage equality headed back to the Supreme Court in the historic case Obergefell v. Hodges. While the historic Supreme Court cases in 2013 (United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry) struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and brought marriage equality back to California, respectively, Obergefell v. Hodges had the potential to make marriage equality the law of the land. And of June 26, 2015, that’s exactly what it did.
Oral arguments were held on the morning of April 28, 2015. Champion LGBT Attorney Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, a former assistant U.S. solicitor gender, represented the plaintiffs from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The named plaintiff in the case was Jim Obergefell, a longtime HRC member and supporter.
Prior to this case arriving at the Supreme Court, over 80 marriage equality cases worked their way through the judicial system across the country.
A month before the oral arguments, HRC delivered its historic "People's Brief" with 207,551 signatories calling for full nationwide marriage equality - more signatories than any amicus brief ever submitted to the Supreme Court. Signatories came from all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Roberta Kaplan, the leading civil rights litigator who won a landmark Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, was the primary author and lead counsel on the brief. Edie Windsor, Kaplan’s trailblazing plaintiff, was the first signatory on the People’s Brief. A diverse group of prominent celebrities, athletes, entertainers and politicians stood up with Windsor, adding their names to this momentous piece of history.
With all of the signatures, each copy of The People’s Brief is approximately 3,500 pages long, for a total of approximately 175,000 pages. It has required four days of round-the-clock printing in order to complete the 50 copies required by the Court in time for today’s deadline for amicus briefs. Nineteen boxes were delivered to the Court.
As we remember this historic case and day, we recognize and thank the couples and families who sacrificed their privacy and gave it their all to make marriage equality the law of the land.
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