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    Precedence: 7 Important Cases That Paved The Way For The Legalization Of Gay/Lesbian Marriage

    With the Supreme Court decision to federally recognize all marriages as equal, it's important to recognize the cases that paved the ground for this historic moment in human rights. Here are 7 important cases that helped make the way for Obergefell v. Hodges.

    Loving v Virginia


    In 1967 in Loving v Virginia, the Supreme Court overruled the state of Virginia's right to ban mixed race marriages. Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, an African-American woman went to Washington D.C. to get married and then returned to the state of Virginia, where they were from, to establish their lives together as a married couple in June of 1958. The following October they were indicted for violating Virginia's ban on interracial marriages and in January of 1959 they pled guilty to the charge.

    On the condition that they would leave the state of Virginia, the residing judge suspended the sentence for 25 years stating that:

    "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

    The couple then moved to Washington, D.C. and later filed suit against the state of Virginia. The case was argued in April 1967 and was decided in June of 1967. This historical case required all states to recognize interracial marriages and was a landmark in the fight for Civil Rights and equality.

    Griswold v Connecticut

    PRX / Via

    In June 1965 the Supreme Court overturned a law in Connecticut banning the use of contraceptives between married couples. Estelle Griswold was the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, a licensed physician and professor at Yale University. She was arrested in November 1961 for operating the center and distributing contraceptives to married couples and instructing them on their use.

    The 1965 decision by the Supreme Court allowed for all married couples to be free to use contraceptives and established an idea of privacy within a marriage that the government could not infringe upon.

    Eisenstadt v Baird


    William Baird, a physician, was indicted in 1971 of showing contraceptive articles during a lecture at Boston University about contraceptives and then giving one woman in the audience a free contraceptive foam after the lecture, at the time was a felony in Massachusetts. Baird held that individuals outside of marriages had a right to use contraceptives as well and that the idea of privacy extended to the unmarried relationship not just one within marriage. In November 1972 the Supreme Court sided with Baird stating that "The right of privacy is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted government intrusion."

    Turner v Safley


    In 1987 Missouri, inmates in the Missouri Corrections system brought a case before the Supreme Court about the rights of an inmate to get married. At the time, inmates could only marry with the permission of the superintendent. Inmates felt that this was a violation of their natural rights. While the court did not rule on the issue of prisoner's rights, they did rule, in 1987, in favor of the non-prisoners whose rights were constitutionally effected by the choice of the superintendent to allow them to marry an incarcerated person or not. This further created precedence for the idea that marriage is an inalienable right allowed to all people by the 14th Amendment.

    Lawrence v Texas

    The New York Times

    In Texas 2003, police entered John Lawrence's home on the report of a weapons disturbance to find Lawrence and Tyron Garner engaged in sexual acts. At the time, the Texas state constitution had a law prohibiting "deviant sexual acts." These acts were described as "(A) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or (B) the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object." Tex. Penal Code Ann. §21.06(a) 2003.

    Based on the previous findings of Griswold v Connecticut and Eisenstadt v Baird, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual and intimate acts between two consenting and adult individuals falls under the idea of privacy and the government does not have a right to regulate said acts. The overturning of this Texas law, and a previous 1986 ruling in which a ban on gay sexual acts was upheld, was a landmark case outlawing states from making discriminatory laws against sexual acts between consenting adults aimed at limiting the sexuality and freedoms of the gay community.

    Bostic v Schaefer and Harris v Rainey


    In 2014 a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Timothy Bostic and Tony London who were denied a marriage certificate in the state of Virginia. Another couple, Carol Schall and Mary Townley, were married in California yet when they returned home to Virginia were unable to have their marriage recognized. After an appealing processes the, the 4th Circuit Court in Virginia ruled that under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause denying the right for same-sex couples to marry was unconstitutional.

    United States v Windsor


    DOMA, or the Defense Against Marriage Act, was enacted in 1996 and created a federal statute that defined marriage for all federal purposes as an union between a man and a woman, providing all legal benefits to being married as only applicable to heterosexual marriages (Section 3, DOMA). DOMA did not stop states from recognizing same-sex marriages, but seriously limited the federal benefits aligned with marriage. DOMA was repealed in 2013 with United States v Windsor which struck down the Section 3 definition of marriage as a union between a man and woman. Championed by Edie Windsor, the case gained national attention as a major step towards the federal recognition of all marriages.

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