Pavan v. Smith: Equality for Gays and Lesbians in Being Married, Not Just in Getting Married
American Constitution Society Supreme Court Review 2016-2017
17 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2018
Date Written: October 1, 2017
Did the United States Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, provide only a narrow and specific right of same-sex couples to obtain state-issued marriage licenses and to have their extant marriages recognized in a new state? Or, was the decision intended to go further—to vindicate the equality and dignity of gays and lesbians at a deeper level—by affirming not only their capacity to enter into marital relationships, but also their capacity to fully participate in the social institution of marriage as it is regulated by American law and understood by contemporary American society?
The Court answered that question, at least partially, in one of its last decisions of the October Term 2016, Pavan v. Smith, which dealt with the right of same-sex couples to have their names listed on their childrens' birth certificates. Yet the Court may not have been clear and definitive enough in Pavan to prevent continued efforts in some states to deny gays and lesbians the full meaning of marriage equality.
Keywords: Pavan, Obergefell, birth certificate, LGBT
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation