On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to turn away appeals, determining that marriage bans are unconstitutional in Virginia. West Virginia, North and South Carolina should soon follow suit as judges in each state follow through on the appellate court’s orders.
This is the legal apex of a controversy that has existed…forever.
It has inched its way center stage since Maine and Maryland legally legitimized gay marriage in 2012 and when North Carolina passed an amendment called “Amendment One” which conversely defined marriage within the state constitution as being strictly between “one man and one woman.”
Earlier the California 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry, is “un-constitutional” and that was the same ruling the Iowa Supreme Court (New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, as well) previously determined.
I have been asked why I write so many essays in defense of gay rights. Apparently, some people find it ironic that as a straight man I am so vocal in this matter. There are two answers and they are very simple.
One is personal:
I have many gay friends and they are citizens and human beings as normal and natural as I am and therefore deserve 100% of all the civil rights I am entitled to.
The second is universal:
All civil rights are relevant to all Americans. If we allow the justification of discrimination to any group of people, how can that not preclude a dangerous affront to all the liberties we cherish?
Homosexuality is not a matter of choice. How can we allow negative judgments over a group of people for being who they were born to be? That is immoral and I have witnessed, first hand, persecution and discrimination in the form of condescension, segregation, arrogance and even violence.
This issue effects all of us, whether we know it or not, and to be silent or even passive is, in my opinion, un-American.
Many Iowans misunderstood the ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court that allows same sex marriage. While it may be true that most Iowans do not support the idea and believe that “marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” that does not mean that their determination (even as a majority) is just.
I’ve heard opponents of same sex marriage say that the Iowa Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and “changed the Iowa Constitution.”
No, they did not. The Iowa Supreme Court did not add language to the Constitution to include gay marriage; they ruled that the Constitution does not discriminate in the application of civil rights to all citizens. They ruled that the Constitution cannot add language that does discriminate.
In fact, this is how the Iowa Supreme Court ruled with regard to legalizing same-sex marriage: “Our responsibility…is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”
This is essentially the same determination the U.S. Supreme Court has now made.
Woody Allen once said, “I was raised in the Jewish tradition, taught never to marry a Gentile woman, shave on a Saturday night and, most especially, never to shave a Gentile woman on a Saturday night.”
His quote is silly but it humorously reveals a serious flaw in religious dogma. Religions create rules to differentiate themselves from others so as to propagate that faith, but those rules can be compounded and misconstrued so as to segregate people from one another and lead to injustices.
I’ve heard people say, “If we allow gay marriage where will it stop? We will be marrying goats!” (Seriously, I’ve heard that).
People – slow down! Take a breath. One– the Bible is not the Constitution. Two– men (or women) and barnyard animals will not marry. We are a nation with a charter that protects such rights as they apply to the activities between Human Beings (…although I know some married people who may have been happier with a goat).
The extension and protection of all such rights are not symptomatic of the decay of our civilization, rather it represents our collective morality and the pursuit of Liberty and Justice for all; it is the advancement of civilization.