NSBA Takes Lead in Helping School Districts Implement Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Decision

June 26, 2015

Alexandria, Va. (June 26, 2015) – On Friday, June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. In the opinion, the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when that marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

The petitioners in Obergefell were fourteen (14) same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased. They filed lawsuits in the federal district courts of their home states claiming that the state officials in those home states were violating the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or by failing to fully recognize marriages lawfully performed in another state. Each of the district courts ruled in the petitioners’ favor, but the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed the decisions of the district courts.

After addressing the history of marriage and the governing principles and legal precedents in cases involving marriage, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, stated that “[t]he right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.” It went on to say that “since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all states, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

“As the nation’s largest collective employer with nearly 6.2 million employees, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is a landmark decision that will have direct impact on local school boards and school personnel,” stated National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Through our legal advocacy experts and our website,, NSBA offers targeted resources to help guide school districts on appropriate implementation of the law,” said Gentzel. (Please note: NSBA did not file a “friend-of-the court” [amicus] brief or take a position on the issue in the case. See also the Note below for case-related NSBA resources.)

“The Court’s ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all States to recognize same-sex marriage is a wide-ranging decision of national importance,” said Francisco M. Negrón, NSBA General Counsel and Associate Executive Director, Legal Advocacy. “NSBA will continue to provide its members with guidance on how to interpret federal agencies’ and departments’ implementation of court precedent,” said Negrón.


Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.

Note: The NSBA has been involved in helping school districts understand the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage since the Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, where it struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The Court’s ruling in Windsor impacted more than a thousand federal laws providing benefits to spouses. In order to help school districts better understand this important ruling and the changes they needed to make in order to remain compliant with the ruling, the NSBA led an effort—in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) and the AASA, School Superintendents Association (AASA)—to develop a document, which consisted of a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on school district employer and employee issues related to the DOMA ruling.

In keeping with the work done in the DOMA case, the NSBA will be leading the charge in helping school districts understand the impact of the holding in Obergefell and will be releasing a publication, within the next week, which will help school districts understand the impact that the holding in the case will have on their operations

The DOMA FAQ can be found at:

Detailed legal analysis on this case can be found by clicking:  NSBA’s Legal Clips

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