Over the past couple of days I’ve read a lot of stuff about Friday’s Supreme Court decision on the Obergefell case. Some of what I’ve read has been thoughtful, but to be honest, much of it hasn’t. I understand that there are people who have strong feelings on the issue, and will react one way or another without any actual understanding or opinions on the legal issues involved, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. The Obergefell decision actual makes this point:
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
However, I’ve also read some things that are positively wacko, claiming things like the Supreme Court didn’t have the right to make this decision, or that it will result in the end of the world as we know it.
The Supreme Court’s job – when they do it properly – is to rule on the constitutionality of an issue. They are not to make moral or emotional decisions based on their own whims or feelings, but to look at the specific issues that are sent to them, and apply the Constitution to those issues.
In this case, I believe the Supreme Court not only made the correct decision, but that they made the only reasonable decision. They were looking at 2 issues: Whether a state could deny marriage rights to same-sex couples, and if same-sex marriages would be recognized in states where same-sex marriage was not legal. The court looked at the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court is not a religious institution, and looks at marriage from a legal persepctive, not a spiritual or religious one. And the Constitution doesn’t care how your religion defines marriage (or we would have to ask, “which religion?”). It is a legal definition, not a spiritual one. And marriage, from a legal standpoint, means having certain rights relating to things like insurance coverage, taxation, citizenship, and estate issues. Equal rights to marry essentially means that these various legal benefits are now available to everyone involved in a committed relationship.
The ruling is not going to result in more same-sex couples cohabitatng. It simply meand that they can’t be denied the same legal rights as other couples. And, under the 14th Amendment, that is correct. Basically, there is no Constitutional basis for denying same-sex couples these rights. The decision also means that the confusion created by marriages in one state not being recognized in another state will not be an issue. Under the Constitution, and by simple common sense, it would seem that this is the only reasonable decision the Supreme Court could have made. If we still believe in equality under the law. Some may not like it, but equal rights are equal rights.
Endnote: I am making no comments here about whether same-sex marriage is right or wrong or how the Bible is to be interpreted. I am only saying that according to the Constitution and the laws of the land, I believe the SC decision was the correct one, and it is a civil rights victory for the LGBT community.