felt as though it was a good time to add my view on all of this.
I’d first like to state that the issue of gay marriage
is perhaps the most important collection of principles in the last 10 or 15 years. That is purely a perspective of my own, but I think many people could agree. States who, in the 2004 election
referendums, voted for banning gay marriage in their respective constitutions, clearly have shown us that there is more to gay rights than politics. The issue uncovers extreme polarization
not only in politics, but also in the moral, religious, and cultural landscapes. So few of the debates in this country, as well as throughout the world, cut so deeply into so many different realms of thought. Even young children
bleed signs of being polarized on this issue. And if nothing else, we seem to be one of the few nations that have legally considered gay rights and gay marriage
, without a sense of national compromise
Someone in a class of mine today expressed the thought that “civil unions
stigmatize gays.” I whole heartedly agree with this. Parallels to the Brown vs. Board of Education
case can be made with the issue of gay rights. A notion of “separate but equal
” rings loud and clear in reference to civil unions.
As a result of these discrepancies, two sub-issues arise. The first is jurisdictional authority, or in other words, who gets to decide? Either the court systems can draw the line, or the people by way of legislature
can decide. The “people” have signaled overwhelmingly, at least on a state-to-state level, that they are against gay marriage. But what about the courts? The most obvious example to bring up is the Massachusetts Supreme Court
, which legalized gay marriage by way of a 6-3 decision. The 14th amendment
undoubtedly plays a role here, perhaps motivating the winning justices with miniscule but enormously important phrases such as “equal protection of the laws
.” History can also be introduced perhaps as a sign of who should decide. Judges traditionally have had to protect the minority
, something the legislative systems around the country haven’t always been willing to do. Homosexuals
are a minority. Should judges not be allowed to protect them also?
Examining the Massachusetts
decision even further is important in understanding the two sides to the gay rights issue. Critical to note is the fact that civil unions were never mentioned as support or as part of the legal boundaries. Only when the legislature actually pondered the question did the justices
say that civil unions were not adequate enough. The aforementioned quote about stigmatizing gays falls in line with this piece of the puzzle.
In my perspective, Chief Justice Marshall
nails the issue into the table with two pieces of her decision. First, she invokes a John Stuart Mill
style argument as she explains that the “plaintiffs seek only to be married, not to undermine the institution of civil marriage. They do not want marriage abolished.” She goes on to further support the jurisdictional side of the issue by writing that “it is the function of the courts to determine whether these criteria are met and whether these limits are exceeded.” A firestorm has erupted over that line in some ways, as Justice Spina
disagreed with her by arguing that “the court has transformed its role as the protector of individual rights into the role of creator of rights, and I respectfully dissent.” No doubt a reasonably valid rebuttal to Marshall’s decision.
One final point I’d like to bring up is the lack of compromise in the US. Countries in Europe
such as Germany
, and Denmark
all have civil unions; furthermore, there is a sense in those countries that with such a hotly debated issue, there needs to be some compromise. The lack of similar agreeable notions in this country is perhaps one among many possible reasons why the US isn’t widely liked in Europe.