A federal judge overturned Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriages on Monday, calling the measure “discriminatory” and stating that the constitution should protect all citizens equally, regardless of sexual orientation.
Oregon officials had already announced they have no intention of appealing the decision. Couples were lined up before the ruling was even announced, and the state began issuing licenses immediately.
If the measure holds, Oregon will become the 18th state to allow same-sex marriages.
Opponents are already speaking out against the ruling, with the Oregon Family Council claiming the state “sidestepped the will of the voters” who supported the referendum.
Perhaps this is true. After all, marriage licenses are issued by the state, and the people of the state had spoken. The people of the state were preparing to speak again; gay rights groups had amassed enough signatures to force another vote in November, but said they would drop the measure if the ban was removed.
Still, shouldn’t this be a federal civil rights issue? The comparison to the once staunchly supported interracial marriage ban is not a new argument, but it is no less potent. Many proponents of that ban cited the same reasons now used against same-sex marriage. Is the right to marry truly an inalienable right that should be afforded to all citizens?
The answer is yes. The Supreme Court set that precedent the same way it set the precedent for striking down the interracial marriage ban, or for giving women the right to vote, or for abolishing slavery. All men are created inherently equal, and the government—state or federal—cannot discriminate.
Much—though not all—of the opposition to same-sex marriage stems from religion. Statistics show that over 70% of the country identifies as “Christian”. Many of the states still banning same-sex marriage are conservative-minded with a large religious base. Not all Christians oppose it, and some debate over whether the bible strictly prohibits it, while others simply profess to “live and let live” or “love the sinner and hate the sin”.
Yet whether it is a sin, whether the Christian God or Allah or any other religious deity is believed to be against homosexuality does not matter when it comes to civil law. The United States of America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and the founding fathers vehemently opposed religious rule. Separation of church and state, though not an official phrase in any legislation, is an obvious sentiment in the Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” reads the first amendment. Enforcing a ban on same-sex marriage based on the bible or any other religious text is a direct violation of the very first (and arguably most important) amendment in the Bill of Rights.
Other groups have brought about different opposing arguments: that homosexuality is unnatural, that children will suffer without a distinct mother and father figure. These arguments have been debunked by science. Homosexuality has been found in over 1,500 other species. The gender of parental figures has no bearing on a child’s psychological or sociological well-being, according to the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.
The Supreme Court, the federal district judges, the Oregon state officials, and the state officials of 17 other states have recognized that there is no sound legal argument against same-sex marriage. Many will not like this, either due to their religious beliefs, or due to their personal bias. Yet we did not allow personal bias or religious beliefs continue to fuel the suppression of racial minorities. All American citizens are entitled to their religious beliefs, to their personal beliefs, and to freedom of speech; however, none of these rights extend to disenfranchising a minority group. The Supreme Court already made this decision back in 1967.
Sources / Supporting Links / Works Cited (If none, please type “none”): Federal judge strikes down Oregon’s ban on gay marriage—(http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/19/judge-strikes-down-oregon-ban-on-gay-marriage/); In U.S., 77% Identify as Christian–(http://www.gallup.com/poll/159548/identify-christian.aspx); The First Amendment–(http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html); Psychological and Social Outcomes for Children of Same-Sex Couples–(http://www.freedomtomarry.org/page/-/files/pdfs/SPSSIPsychologicalSocialOutcomesforChildren.pdf); 1,500 animal species practice homosexuality–(http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx)
Written By: Christina Lee Jones