Nov 192003
 
Authors: Joe Marshall

The Massachusetts State Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the

state couldn’t ban same-sex civil marriages by a 4-3 margin. Being

as how the year is 2003 and this is the “land of opportunity,” I am

both supportive of the ruling and shocked at how many people are

against it.

Homosexuals are Americans, too. Gay people pay taxes, vote,

serve in the military and in the government. Homosexual couples are

allowed to raise children. They too should be afforded the same

legal benefits gained by any other couple from entering into legal

union.

The court agrees with this statement. The commonwealth of

Massachusetts, according to the opinion rendered by the court,

“affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids

the creation of second-class citizens.” This is the foundation of

the decision to allow same-sex marriages; homosexuals are not

sub-human and should not be treated as such in any way. Period.

The Massachusetts Board of Health, the defendant in Tuesday’s

ruling, could not identify any tangible and specific threat to the

greater good caused by same sex marriages. The Board of Health was

unable to demonstrate how a prohibition of same sex marriages would

lead to an increase in heterosexual marriages, and even conceded

how homosexual couples could be “excellent” parents. A “moral” code

was the department’s only real defense of the exclusionary act.

“Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman,”

President Bush said in a speech Tuesday. Thirty-seven states have

laws reaffirming this belief. Supporters of these laws contend that

by allowing people of the same sex to enter into marital

agreements, the fabric of the institution will be cheapened and

irreparably damaged. The same type of “moral” argument was used by

opponents of a similar court decision in 1967.

In “Loving v. Virginia,” the U.S Supreme court struck down a

Virginia law banning marriages between a person classified as

“white” and any other person classified as “non-white.”

Conservatives all over the country lambasted the courts’ decision,

calling it a degradation of the marital institution.

The Loving case, as well as an earlier case entitled Perez v.

Sharp, reiterated every American’s 14th Amendment rights to due

process and equality under the law. In addition to using these

cases as precedent guaranteeing every citizens’ right to marriage,

the Massachusetts court further elaborated about how these cases

demonstrate “the right to marry means little if it does not include

the right to marry the person of one’s choice, subject to

appropriate government restrictions in the interests of public

health, safety and welfare.”

How many people still believe interracial marriage is a threat

to the greater good and would publicly defend their opinion? The

case in Massachusetts is no different from the Loving case in what

the court seeks to accomplish by extending marriage rights to all

segments of the population, regardless of race or sexual

orientation.

Kelley Herring, a GLBT Student Services staff member, praised

the decision of the Massachusetts court “because it makes no

division between the GLBT community and the rest of the world.”

Unlike the Vermont law recognizing “civil unions” between couples

of the same sex that gives gay couples almost all the rights

afforded by straight couples but stops short of calling the union a

marriage, the Massachusetts ruling implies giving homosexuals truly

“equal” protection and recognition under the law.

Robert Lee, a representative of CSU College Republicans, has an

interesting perspective of the issue. “I don’t think the government

should grant or sanction any type of marriage,” Lee said in a

telephone conversation Tuesday. He did admit this was a somewhat

libertarian stance on the issue, but it nonetheless provided me

with a shocking and refreshingly conservative take on the

subject.

“I’m not sure,” Lee further elaborated, “(if) homosexual

marriage is something America is ready for.” He is not alone in

this feeling; according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 61

percent of Americans do not support the idea of gay marriage.

Opponents of gay marriage say this statistic is proof of the need

for a constitutional amendment outlawing the practice in lieu of a

decision rendered by a “runaway court.”

The dissenting opinion of the court ruling, that is the opinion

of the three nay-sayers, contends that the court did indeed

overstep its bounds. I disagree. The court was asked to make a

decision concerning the rights of a minority group in this country,

and it ruled in favor of that minority.

The very purpose of our judiciary system is to protect and

uphold the rights of citizens, and just because the court ruled in

a fashion contrary to public opinion does not make its decision

wrong. The judiciary’s power to rule in favor of the minority is,

in my opinion, the only thing that truly separates democracy from

mob rule.

Over time I believe the American public will come to accept the

idea of gay marriage, just as it has become more accepting of the

gay lifestyle over the past few decades. Just because someone is

gay does not mean they are incapable of loving someone, being a

good parent or being a productive member of society. The time has

come to give this very real segment of our population the same

rights as everyone else, including the right to file joint tax

returns with their said spouse.

 

 

Joe is a senior majoring in history. He is straight, single (!)

and challenges anyone who disagrees with his opinion to defend

theirs in the context of interracial, not homosexual, marriage.

 

 

 

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