Robert E. Rains

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017


On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, making same-sex marriage the "law of the land" throughout the United States. Obergefell culminated, at least for now, a four-decades long legal war, but it hardly ended the accompanying legal and political battles. Those battles started well before the Obergefell decision, as states, and sometimes municipalities, had enacted either same-sex marriage per se or some sort or marriage-like recognition for same-sex couples-with names such as "reciprocal beneficiaries" or "civil unions." Opposition has come from state and local officials (refusing to issue marriage licenses, refusing to perform weddings, refusing to issue documents listing same-sex spouses, etc.) and from private busiensses providing public accommodations (wedding venues, photographers, florists, etc.). By the time this Article is published, the Supreme Court will have heard oral argument in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in which a bakery owner is asserting the constitutional right to refuse-on regligious and free speech grounds-to make and decorate a wedding cake for same-sex couples.

This Article will: examine Obergefell majority and dissenting opinions, recount the various battles being waged by opponents of legal recognition of same-sex couples and those entities which do not want to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples, consider our political divide on gay rights issues, and finally attempt, with great trepidation, to posit a way forward that might satisfy-or dissatisfy-both camps equally.

Publication Title

Vt. L. Rev.