By: Mike Brill – Columnist, Junior
“I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country.” – President Barack Obama
In President Obama’s State of the Union address this month, he highlighted the progress that has been made in LGBT civil rights in our country during the past decade.
Same-sex couples could not marry anywhere in the United States in 2004. Today, 70 percent of our nation’s citizens live in a state with marriage equality, with 36 states and the District of Columbia allowing same-sex marriage. We now live in a country in which 60 percent of citizens believe couples of the same sex should be allowed to marry, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post. The progress we have seen as a result of the LGBT rights movement has been unprecedented. Now it’s time to win marriage equality once and for all.
On Jan. 16, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review in marriage cases across four states, including our own. The court will rule early this summer on whether the 14th Amendment prevents state bans on same-sex marriage. This case is the first opportunity the U.S. has had for national marriage equality.
It is clear marriage bans are unconstitutional. The equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment protect homosexual citizens from being treated differently than heterosexual ones.
And when it comes to marriage, it is true that all couples are the same. Same-sex couples want to be able to enter into the same loving and committed relationships that straight couples do. Their marriages are fundamentally the same as those of heterosexual couples. Responsibility, respect, trust and the bond of family are intrinsic values of a marriage. The institution matters to everyone for the same reasons.
Same-sex couples also need access to the protections guaranteed to married couples under the law. Married couples have many important economic and legal protections vital to our society, such as the ability to freely transfer property, to visit one another in the hospital, parent as a couple and receive family-only government benefits. For this reason, banning marriage for a certain group of citizens is clearly in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The government cannot constitutionally allow LGBT citizens to continue to be discriminated against in this manner.
Four federal appeals courts have found this to be true, along with countless lower courts. The due process and equal protection clauses were also the rationale used by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, when the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
It is clear the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality this summer, and it will be the most historic day for civil rights in our lifetime. Freedom to marry is a fundamental human right that has been withheld from same-sex couples in the U.S. for years.
It’s time for all loving couples in America to have the freedom to marry. I’m confident the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of this basic human right this summer.