Based on what I’ve read in this article about an appeals court rejecting Utah’s ban on gay marriage, I’m hopeful that the US Supreme Court will finally decide to take on a gay marriage case. With the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Supreme Court stopped just short of declaring that every state in the union must allow gay marriage. As a result, gay rights advocates have been forced to try to get same-sex marriage legalized one state at a time.
But as difficult as it has been, the New York Times reports we’re off to an encouraging start in a number of places:
…Judges from Arkansas to Michigan to Idaho have tossed out prohibitions on same-sex marriages, with the most recent ruling coming Wednesday as a federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban. But legal observers said the Utah ruling was significant because it was the first time a federal appeals panel had found that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
The article mentions that Utah’s attorney general, Sean Reyes, plans to appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. I’m perfectly fine with that- once this case hits the Supreme Court (that’s if the Court decides to take the case, since it is allowed to choose which to take), it is very possible that it will rule in favor of gay marriage. Such a ruling would make it federal law that no state can deny same-sex couples the right to marry.
I say it’s possible because of the wording of the Utah ruling (NY Times):
In overturning the ban Utah voters passed in 2004, the judges spoke of liberty and equal protection and drew comparisons between outlawing same-sex unions and unconstitutional laws against interracial marriage.
“To claim that marriage, by definition, excludes certain couples is simply to insist that those couples may not marry because they have historically been denied the right to do so,” the judges wrote. “One might just as easily have argued that interracial couples are by definition excluded from the institution of marriage.”
“May a state of the union constitutionally deny a citizen the benefit or protection of the laws of the state based solely upon the sex of the person that citizen chooses to marry?” the judges wrote. They concluded, “The State of Utah may not do so.”
“Equal protection” refers to every American’s right to equal protection (or treatment) under the law, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. If the Supreme Court Justices are in agreement that gay people should be granted the same 14th Amendment rights as everyone else, they are bound to allow gay marriage nationwide.
Denying any American citizen a constitutional right would surely seem cruel and unjust. It would be an embarrassment not only to the Court, but to the US as a nation. Many countries would see us as hypocrites and barbarians, and rightly so.