This month, we elected the first non-Caucasian president in the history of the United States. On the same night, four different states passed laws against GLBT individuals. In Arizona and Florida, those states defined marriage as being between one man and one woman thus banning GLBT individuals from being able to exercise the right to marry.
In Arkansas, all unmarried couples (especially GLBT couples) were henceforth banned from adopting children or becoming foster parents. With over 3% of the millions of foster children in the United States living in same sex households, you have to imagine some kids just lost what they believed might become their forever homes.
In the saddest, and most depressing loss of the night, California passed Proposition 8. This is the first time in history, a group of people have had a right given to them by the courts only to have it taken away. If anything is truly unconstitutional, it’s this, because this is the first time people have truly lost a right they once retained. First, we all need to agree that marriage truly is a right. I’ll get into why I believe it is a right a little later in this post.
Many people think that the courts have no right determining what is unconstitutional and what isn’t, but that is exactly why the courts are there. The judicial branch of the government was established because certain minority groups would be denied certain rights by the majority. The minority had to have some protection. In years past, we’ve seen many minority groups be served up similar “unconstitutional” bans on freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only protection these groups had was through the judicial system who overturned such unconstitutional laws and made it so these groups were given the same rights.
The best example of this has to be the issue of bi-racial marriage. Virginia constitutionally banned bi-racial marriage in 1661. It was a punishable offense back then. Oddly enough, those who passed this law into effect believed it was “God’s Will” and that they were denying bi-racial couples the right to marry because they believed it was against what God wanted. This sounds erriely familiar doesn’t it? Oh yes! This is the same argument now being used to deny GLBT individuals the right to marry.
In 1967, it was the Supreme Court who deemed this law to be unconstitutional. Had the people been given the right to vote on the issue, it most likely would not have passed. Thanks to Loving vs. The Commonwealth of Virginia, the Supreme Court was able to decriminalize the right to marry who you wanted regardless of race. It was through the courts that the minority was protected, not through states voting on the issue.
This is because the majority vastly outweighed the majority and would most likely not have had the minority’s interests at heart. So, why is the majority able to squelch the rights of the GLBT minority group? It’s because the people seem to want more say in government and more say in what they believe is right…not what truly is right.
You should check out my post on answering all of the arguments against gay marriage. It explains how all of the arguments against it have no validity or reasoning behind them. That being said, I should now explain why I believe marriage is a right and not a religious institution. Marriage has become a religious institution though it doesn’t have to be. In fact, by law, it has nothing to do with religion.
Marriage is a right, civil liberty or whatever else you want to call it because those who marry get government benefits. Marriage is, in its purest form, a legal binding of two individuals. Religion has nothing to do with legal matters or the courts. In fact, marriage is one of the most heavily rewarded, legally binding contracts. There are over 1400 benefits (both state and federal) afforded to married couples. When a state, nation, or community denies a GLBT couple the right to marry, the couple is being denied 1400 benefits. This isn’t just one or two. No, it’s nearly 2000 benefits. That is the disgusting reality and part of what makes these bans unconstitutional.
The 9th amendment also makes this unconstitutional. Basically, this amendment, which is in the Bill of Rights, acknowledges that there are rights not specifically in the constitution (such as the right to marry) and it guarantees protection to these rights, especially against any other amendments that are placed in said constitution. Essentially, by putting a constitutional amendment in the constitution, which bans GLBT individuals from marrying, the ninth amendment is being squelched. It’s not being upheld.
In conclusion, we have a long way to go until this country will be just and fair to GLBT individuals. I was proud to make history by helping to elect Barack Obama as my next president, but that excitement couldn’t help but be marred by the several steps taken back that limit the rights of GLBT individuals thanks to votes by people who don’t even understand what being GLBT is.
[tags]GLBT rights, gay rights, gay marriage, unconstitutional, steps back, constitutional amendment, protections, deny, courts[/tags]