The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on same sex marriage today. Arguably one of the nation’s hottest hot topics, SCOTUS is preparing to drop the hammer once and for all on whether I can marry Brad Pitt. The actual decision won’t surface until June, which is fine because… summer wedding!
The justices heard two and a half hours of arguments today. The big questions up for decision are:
- Are states required to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
- Must these marriages, licensed in states where such is legal, be recognized in states where it is not legal under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
As a Con Law refresher, here’s the Fourteenth Amendment:
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.
Those in favor of gay marriage have the brash and optimistic opinion that LGBTQ people are, well, people. They believe that the citizens and persons specifically referenced in the text include them, too. Radical notion, eh? Those opposed to gay marriage disagree, not necessarily with the notion that I am a person, but with the idea that I might actually want the same rights as other people.
Marco Rubio, a 2016 hopeful for presidential candidacy, eloquently described his anti-gay marriage stance in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The Brody File”: “It doesn’t exist. There is no federal constitutional right to same sex-marriage. There isn’t such a right. You would have to really have a ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex.”
Thank you, Mr. Rubio. By the way, no, I don’t want fries with that.
Enter the Supremes. I honestly wonder if they were wishing they were singing back up on “Stop! In the Name of Love” rather than hearing arguments based on the 150+ briefs filed in this case. Especially, this one by Gene Shaerr, a former Scalia clerk.
The main pro-gay marriage argument is that marriage is a fundamental right, according to past SCOTUS rulings. Denying any U.S. citizen a fundamental right bears strict scrutiny. The nay-sayers bleat that the fundamental right refers to “traditional” marriage defined as being between a man and a woman. Ergo, since LGBTQ’s aren’t included in the dictionary definition of marriage, SCOTUS cannot possibly find in favor of gay marriage.
Funny thing, definitions. Back in “the day” (pre-June 12, 1967), the definition of “traditional” marriage didn’t include interracial unions regardless of the parties’ genders. In Loving v. Virginia, SCOTUS ruled that the races may intermarry and changed the face of the nation. Misters Rubio, Shaerr, et. al. must’ve been dozing during that case in law school.
It’s interesting to note that many of the nay-sayers also argue that SCOTUS has no place deciding this issue, that it is a states’ right to decide. They rant on that legislators and the people are the ones who should have that power over the lives of other human beings.
Currently, at least 36 of the 50 states have legalized same-sex marriage and over 70% of Americans live in these states. It seems to me that the people are speaking and that it’s time for change.
By the way, Brad and I are registered at Saks in case you’re interested.