THE LONG VIEW: Same-sex marriage gets an equal ruling

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Less thana week has passed since the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage. To no one’s surprise, there has been plenty of commotion over this decision.

Some have cried out in dismay while others have cried tears of joy. Polls show the American people largely welcome this ruling as equality under the law and a minority thinks it immoral, saying it is a redefinition of marriage, not marriage parity.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision a threat to American democracy.

Less thana week has passed since the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage. To no one’s surprise, there has been plenty of commotion over this decision.

Some have cried out in dismay while others have cried tears of joy. Polls show the American people largely welcome this ruling as equality under the law and a minority thinks it immoral, saying it is a redefinition of marriage, not marriage parity.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision a threat to American democracy.

“Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate over same-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best," he harrumphed in his dissent.

Never-going-to-happen presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee expressed a similar view.

“This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions…” he stated shortly after the court’s announcement.
Now, democracy is a fine institution, notwithstanding H.L. Mencken's observation that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.’

But democracy is not the way people's rights are determined.

This decision was about equal treatment and nothing more. The rights of two people entering a marriage contract to receive the privileges and protections granted by the State must not differ from couple to couple. That is, if the State will recognize and give certain freedoms to Bob and Sue after their nuptials, it must do the same for Tom and William or Lisa and Mary Beth.

The majority ruled, in other words, that the Constitution does not allow individual states to pick and choose who may be granted the benefits of being married. Either everyone gets these marriage benefits (and responsibilities, I might add), or no one does.

The swing vote on the bench, Justice Anthony Kennedy, authored the prevailing decision. Though Scalia derided the style in which it was expressed, the majority opinion spoke volumes about treating each other as we might be treated.

“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach,” Kennedy wrote, “liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

Of the plaintiffs, he noted: “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be… excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Regardless of laws or, as in my state, a constitutional amendment, against same-sex marriage, the fundamental, inalienable rights of all Americans, created equal, are not granted or withheld by popular vote. In our e pluribus unum, the minority may not have their freedoms curtailed by the majority.As such, marriage equality was so ordered by the Supreme Court, on a very good day for America.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

THE LONG VIEW:  Same-sex marriage gets an equal ruling