Monday, January 19, 2015

The Supreme Court Decision to Take On Marriage Equality

You probably saw that the Supreme Court has decided to take up again the issue of marriage equality. After some 59 rulings against bans on marriage equality, the ruling of I think the 6th circuit upholding the bans means that it is time for the court to weigh in. They expect to hear the case in April and rule by June (I feel a "cold" coming on that will keep me from going to language training that is possible there will even be a lavender flu that day that takes out all the LGBT language students!)

I admit to being both thrilled and terrified.

There is a nice piece in the Washington Post today talking about the decision to take the case and what the specific questions (whether the 14th amendment requires states to allow same-sex marriage and whether it requires out of state marriages to be recognized) being asked mean for marriage equality. The article, referring to the 1967 Loving v Virginia case, which ruled against bans against interracial marriage, says in part:

"The Supreme Court ruled in that 1967 case that Virginia’s ban on marriages between people of different races violated the equal protection guarantee of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” the majority argued. “To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.” Replace “racial classifications” with “sexual orientation” and the argument rationale still holds.

By the time the Loving case was decided, Virginia was one of 16 states that still outlawed interracial marriage. As for public opinion, well, the American people were overwhelmingly against such unions. A Gallup poll in 1968, a year after the Supreme Court ruling, showed 73 percent disapproval. When the justices hear arguments in late April, the conditions will be more favorable for same-sex marriage."

At the time of the Loving ruling, interracial marriage was legal in 34 states. Today, we have marriage equality in 36 states. More than 50% of the population believes marriage between two people of the same sex should be legal.

So for those who think we should wait for the right time, the time is more right now than it was for interracial marriage in 1967.

But I hope that Supreme Court will heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said "The time is always right to do what is right."

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