Thursday, November 6, 2008

Injustice Prevails As Gay Marriage Is Denied In Three States

Connecticut did it right. California, Arizona and Florida didn't.

The Connecticut Supreme Court, as I wrote in my post of October 12, was correct to rule that denying marriage to same sex couples violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law. As Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote, "To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

This principle of equal protection means that gays have the constitutional right to marry–a right that cannot be put to a vote, as it was not in Connecticut. I'm reminded again of the expression among gay marriage advocates: "Can I vote on your marriage?" The answer clearly is no. California, Arizona and Florida allowed votes to go forward, as a result of which measures banning gay marriage passed. The biggest disappointment is California, which, despite its status as a progressive state and a cultural trend setter, passed the Proposition 8 ban.

California had already passed a gay marriage law, meaning that a right exercised by thousands of gay couples has now been rescinded. Besides the complications of their status, there is the moral and legal point made by the sign shown above: "It's wrong to vote on rights." It is not for the straight majority to "give" gays the right to marriage; that is a right they inherently possess. It is up to the Supreme Court within a state not so much to "grant" a privilege but to recognize is as a right.

The religious right was out in full force in California, working to enshrine legal discrimination against a minority group. They succeeded this time, and we are all the smaller because of it. I suppose there's some consolation in the fact that the vote against gay marriage in California was 52 percent to 48, in contrast to 61 to 39 percent in 2000. Perhaps there is a gradual movement toward acceptance of gay marriage. 

If so, that would mean that this battle has to be take place state-by-state and in incrementally, until the rest of the nation catches up with Connecticut and Massachusetts. What's at stake is more than a gay right; it is a human right. Injustice scored a victory in California, Arizona and Florida, one that ultimately cannot prevail.


Anonymous said...

The problem with this idealistic viewpoint is that it requires Americans to forget that this country was founded on Christian values. While our government constantly struggles with the separation of state and church, law in general is based on commandments given to us in the Bible.
Marriage is a sacred sacrement, as described in the bible, between a man and a woman. It's sole reason for existance is procreation. Go forth and be fruitful.
For this reason, only marriage between a man and a woman can be held as a legitimate legal contract.

And actually... if you've read this much and your blood is boiling, take a deep breath and know that I'm sarcastically making fun of fanatically religious republicans who try to deny everyone their personal freedoms. I know their arguments. I've heard their points and yes, they do hold some merit. However, at the end of the day, is procreation the sole reason marriage exists for us today? I think if the reason is NO, then marriage between any two individuals should be legal. If for some bizarre reason all marriages must be entered into for the sole reason of making babies, then of course, marriage can only be between a man and a woman. And then I better be prepared to pay some kind of penalty - my husband and I have been married for over 20 years and have failed to procreate thus far. Uh oh.

Signed... The Lazy Liberal

Jeff Tone said...

Is procreation the reason gays can't marry? If so, you make an excellent point: what about childless straight couples? Actually, I hear two reasons used to justify opposition: warnings that gay marriage threatens the foundations of our civilization, which makes no sense to me, and gay marriage offends religious beliefs. Regarding the latter, we don't live in a theocracy. Equal protection under the law should tell us that denying gays the right to marry is wrong.

Anonymous said...

I know a lawyer who I had deemed to be smart...up to the point where he said he was opposed to gay marriage. When I asked why, he stated, "Because it's not right. They can't be a family. They can't have kids. They only want it for the benefits 'regular' people enjoy, like insurance, etc."

If people who are opposed to gay marriage do so because a gay couple cannot procreate... then as I stated, and you agreed, childless straight couples are equally an "abomination" as are those who adopt. I've seen the eye-rolling from critics of gay rights when it's mentioned that gay couples could adopt and thereby become a valid family.

By denying gays the right to marry, you effectively deny them the right to family. To care for children who so desparately need loving, caring, STABLE homes. There's been judgement on gays, saying "That's not an environment for children to be raised." That comment is riduculous, as someone who was raised in a 'straight' family and endured abusive parents, I say that the quality of life for a child does not come from the sexual orientation of a parent, but for his/her capity to provide love.

Denying gays the right to marriage, the right to family, is nothing less than common prejudice. Gay marriage is the final 'big-time' equal rights issue. Are we holding on to it because we might forget how great it once felt to deny women the right to vote? To force blacks to sit in the back of the bus? Or to hire a white man instead of a more qualified minority? Are we so fearful of equality...judging people by their merits and not by their gender, color, sexual orientation or religion, that we feel obligated to grip this final prejudice with frightened, clenched fists and proclaim, "No... no...! I will not allow people different from myself to have the same rights as I! I am better than at least...the gays!

I'm sorry to announce to those who do not fully embrace equal rights, but effective November 4th, "Archie Bunker" has died. It's time to step up and recognize that all people truly are equal - to be judged by merit and qualifications and not by personal prejudices. Those days are over.

Signed...The Lazy Liberal