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In June 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that there is a fundamental right to marriage that extends to same-sex couples. This Article analyzes the Obergefell decision in light of the Court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby regarding religious protections that might by analogy be afforded under state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. In particular, the article considers whether a government official may claim the right to religious freedom to deny issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Additionally, the article suggests that a new standard for the separation of church and state may be required. Although the 2015 decision prevents the government from denying marriage to same-sex couples, the decision does not directly affect private businesses that choose not to provide services for same-sex weddings. It may, however, have an important indirect effect if laws are already present that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Therefore, the article explores possible avenues for protection from private discrimination and considers the questions that remain in the wake of the Obergefell decision.


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8 Sep 2022
587 kB



  • Subject
    • Civil Rights and Discrimination

    • Constitutional Law

    • Domestic Law

    • Religion Law

    • Sexuality and Sexual Orientation

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice

  • Volume
    • 36

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Pagination
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    8 September 2022