Free: Court ruling a victory for equal rights
- Aug. 19, 2010
- 7 Comments
Over the past few weeks as students have enjoyed the last days of summer, over in California things got real.
Thousands of Californians’ lives changed for the better after a judge overturned Propositon 8 on August 4, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
This was a major victory for the LGBT community and it certainly won’t be the last.
Gay marriage must eventually win out because of the United States’ devotion to the principles of equality and the separation of church and state.
It’s so obvious it may be trie, but in this country everyone is theoretically born equal. I know as well as anyone else that this doesn’t exactly pan out in practice but there’s no reason we can’t continue to work for the ideal.
Full marriage rights are still out of reach for nearly all gay and lesbian couples, and this is simply an inequality. A long-term interdependent couple is a long-term interdependent couple, no matter what the gender or sexuality of the people in it. Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down Proposition 8, argued for the equality of all couples in his ruling.
“Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions,” Walker wrote.
As it stands, the law denies just some of those couples the social security benefits, next-of-kin rights, automatic inheritance rights and a myriad of other things that go hand-in-hand with marriage. This is both actively discriminatory and directly harmful to individual people.
Some cities and states have a domestic partner registry, including Lawrence. However, this provides only recognition by the city that two people are in a domestic partnership, and absolutely none of the legal rights that are associated with marriage.
Every civil rights movement is a corrective, a realignment between what the Constitution says and what the public practices. Right now, there is still a massive disparity between the treatment of gays and lesbians and the idea of equal protection under the law found in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
When you hear opponents of same-sex marriage articulating their position, often you will discern that they are vehemently against marriage equality because of their belief system. Now, I don’t want to knock religion, at least not all of it and not right now, but I strongly question the validity of such opinions as they regard public policy.
Fortunately, one of the foundational concepts of this country is the separation of church and state. This means the government can’t oppose something just because it doesn’t jive with a prevailing belief system, and it can’t legislate morality.
Relying on a book or a gut feeling is simply not enough to oppose equality. There have to be reasons and facts and studies and evidence (you know, science), to support something. Judge Walker understood this, and acted on it. With his precedent courts across the nation should eventually recognize the right to marry for same-sex couples right along with opposite-sex couples.
As Dr. King said half a century ago, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
With this hopeful sentiment we must continue to support equality for everyone, and not stop fighting until all discrimination is ended.
Free is a sophomore from Blue Springs, Mo., in women’s studies.