f Humanisticus: Will Same-Sex Marriage Have its Roe v. Wade

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Will Same-Sex Marriage Have its Roe v. Wade

The same-sex marriage debate is gathering momentum and appears it will populate the headlines for some time to come. Some nations have recognised same-sex marriage whereas others merely allow civil unions/partnerships, which in essence are a stepping-stone towards full marriage rights. The main opposition against same-sex marriages emanates mainly from religious conservatives. The arguments they employ are quite superficial such as homosexuality is unnatural, marriage has always been a tradition between a man and a woman, and of the course the Maude argument ‘will somebody please think of the children’. Each of these arguments is a thin veil to hide their religious prejudices because they know if they say outright they are against same-sex marriage as it says homosexuality is an abomination in the bible they will lose vast support. 

This, however, is not the case in the United States where religion is much more public and even expected of their public officials. Polls show US citizens are unwilling to vote for people who do not publicly affirm their faith. So when it comes to the matter of same-marriage they are much more open about the fact their opposition stems from biblical and religious reasoning. You will hear vacuous arguments such as ‘god made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’, they will openly quote Leviticus as ‘rational’ grounds for banning same-sex marriage, and banned it they have. In every state where a plebiscite has been called to amend state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage, they have passed. The rights of a minority should not be dictated by the majority, or as the saying goes, democracy should not be two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. If it is left to individual states to legalise same-sex marriage it may take generations before it is legalised in every state, however, if proponents secure a landmark case such as Roe v. Wade then same-sex marriage could be legalised in one clean sweep. Before Roe v. Wade, the legality of abortion was left to the state legislatures. Prior to 1973 abortion was illegal in 30 states and legal in 20 states under certain conditions. In 1973, however, the US Supreme Court ruled that abortion was a fundamental right and to forbid it was unconstitutional, violating the Right to Privacy which is protected under the fourteenth amendment; thus abortion became legal nationwide. For such an outcome to transpire for same-sex marriage the denial of marriage to homosexual couples has to be found unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.  There are precedents for such a result found in two state cases. In Massachusetts, Gill et al. v. Office or Personnel Management, the judge ruled that DOMA (Defence of Marriage Act) which denies federal rights to legally married same-sex couples was unconstitutional. In California, Perry v. Brown, the judge panel found the 2008 ballot initiative Propostion 8, which amends the state constitution to restrict marriage to heterosexuals, as unconstitutional as it violated Due Process and Equal Protection under the fourteenth amendment. Currently both cases are under a stay as they are being appealed by the opposition. This could potentially be advantageous as it grants proponents access to higher courts and an increasing influence, and if any of the cases reach the US Supreme Court, it could possibly allow same-sex marriage to be legalised nationwide.

Another reason why the barring of same-sex marriage could be found unconstitutional is due to the fact that it opposes religious beliefs on its populous; and of course this is clearly unconstitutional. If same-sex marriage is against your religious belief then you don’t have to marry someone of the same sex, but you have no right to prevent others from doing so because it is what your religion believes and teaches. Muslims are forbidden to drink and are not allowed to eat pork; do they get to prevent others from drinking and eating pork? No, it is their religious belief so only they need to restrict themselves to it. Same goes for homosexuality, if your religion forbids it then only those of that religion should follow those teachings, they should never be allowed to force their beliefs on others, but that is unfortunately the situation, for now.

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