Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 – 4 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the Government cannot prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Their decision came down to an entirely appropriate application of the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution.
To hear Conservatives wailing and gnashing their teeth, one might think the End Times have arrived. I guess for them, it may have.
Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment to our US Constitution (Bill of Rights), created as a result of the Civil War and reconstruction, reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.United States Bill of Rights
To my non-legally-trained-mind, this is pretty straight-forward. This amendment was the basis of the 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia that declared the Government could not prevent people of different races from marrying. Given that my first and present marriages to Asian women would have been illegal in thirteen states at the time I was born, I’ve always considered the freedom to marry whom I chose to be a very personal issue.
I’ve read the various Republican/Conservative reactions to this Obergefell v. Hodges ruling with amusement and some sense of comeuppance. I was living in Mississippi in 2004 when, as part of the presidential elections, the state Republicans put a referendum on the ballot amending the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one women. At the time there was never a question on the outcome of this referendum. I openly mocked this amendment, taking a lot of heat from the numerous Conservatives of whom I worked with, and I publicly predicted that within ten years the referendum change would be invalidated.
I was wrong in my prediction; it took eleven years. But thirteen states had already acted on their own to recognize same sex marriages (but not Mississippi) before yesterday, so I guess I was almost correct.
It seems a lot of Republican/Conservative reaction to Obergefell v. Hodges centers on “States Rights”; these Republicans/Conservatives insist the states have the right to decide if they want to not comply with our Constitution and Bill of rights. Which I find amusing given that Republicans/Conservatives are consistently running around demanding that the Government has to comply with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Apparently except for when Republicans/Conservatives don’t like the outcome. Whatever.
Of all the reactions I’ve read, the one I find most startling is from Senator Dan Coates (R- Indiana) which reads:
Decisions of faith are the most personal and precious we make in this lifetime. Guided by my Christian faith, I believe that marriage is a solemn covenant made between a man and a woman before God. I also believe we should live our lives rooted in love and respect for our neighbors, regardless of their personal decisions or religious convictions.
It is my long-held opinion that this deeply personal issue – which divides many families and friends – should be decided by the voters in each state. Now that the Supreme Court has imposed its own definition of marriage, we must ensure that religious freedom is protected across America. Established in our nation’s founding days and sustained for over 200 years, religious liberty is at the very core of our system of government and our way of life. All people of all faiths must have the right to exercise their faith within the bounds of our justice system.
It seems to me that if a decision is “deeply personal” it should be decided by the individual. Not the federal Government, not the state government, not the local government, and not the fucking next-door neighbors. If we were to truly practice “lives rooted in love and respect for our neighbors, regardless of their personal decisions or religious convictions,” Government officials like Senator Coates should be demanding that Government stay the fuck out of people’s personal lives, and show respect to the concept that a person’s freedom and liberty end at the tip of their nose.
Having “religious faith” doesn’t give people special rights to discriminate. Under our system of laws, if one doesn’t approve of a certain lifestyle then one simply doesn’t have to live that way! I don’t know why this is such a hard concept for some people to understand.
No one has any business deciding whom other consenting adults may chose (or not to choose) to sleep and live with. If a person feels “threatened” by an adult who chooses to sleep with another adult(s) of the same sex, perhaps that person should do a little soul searching on the assumptions of their own sexual preferences. I can’t help but notice how many anti-gay politicians over the past several years have been outed as closeted gays.
So to the many thousands of people across these United States for whom yesterday was their chance to marry the person they love; congratulations! May you live happily forever-after with your chosen partner-in-life.