Yesterday, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to win marriage equality. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, there have been more than a dozen federal court rulings that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. These rulings have been handed down in courts all over the country – from Idaho to Oklahoma to Michigan to Virginia – and by judges all along the political spectrum. The latest is by John E. Jones III… a Republican who was appointed by George W. Bush.
“The issue we resolve today is a divisive one,” he wrote. “Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’”
He noted that in the 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for integration in Brown v. Board of Education, “’separate’ has thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.” Of discriminatory laws, he concluded, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
Right-wingers predictably gripe about “activist judges” who are “thwarting the will of the people” when they overturn these discriminatory laws. It’s always the people who wrap themselves in the flag and the Constitution who complain the loudest. That’s sad. Because they obviously don’t understand the first thing about our Constitution. It is the highest law in the land, and it applies to everyone. Sometimes in this country’s history, the will of the people has needed thwarting. Voters can pass referenda (e.g. Prop 8) and politicians can enact whatever laws they like (e.g. DOMA) – and discriminatory laws will always be challenged. Those laws which fail to meet the Constitutional standards of due process and equal treatment… those laws will be struck down. As they should be. As they must be… if we are to be a better people.
The End (so far)