The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Rejecting Right to Marry is Unconstitutional

3 min read

There is no justification for the discrimination that thousands of gay couples face daily. Marriage is a right, not a religious ceremony. Same-sex marriage is a question of civil rights, implying that marriage is a universal right. Today’s legislation only perpetuates hatred toward the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered community, at the expense of the fabric of American society. Put simply, it is un-American to deny these couples the right to marry.

The infinite reasons deployed against same-sex marriage in America are overwhelming enough to provoke the same question W.E.B. Du Bois had to answer regarding the plight of African Americans: “How does it feel to be a problem?”

One would hope Americans have learned from past failures.
Aside from the obvious morality of the issue, there are legal concerns with denying citizens the right to marry. First, it goes against the most fundamental principle of being American; the creed that states “all men are created equal.” This creed was questioned with the refusal to extend citizenship to African Americans. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was passed to guarantee the right of equal protection under the law.

The 14th Amendment states, “no State … shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws.” Do citizens with a different sexual orientation not qualify?

On marriage being a universal right, Theodore Olsen, columnist for Newsweek, writes “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we have as Americans under our Constitution. It is an expression of our desire to create a social partnership, to live and share life’s joys and burdens with the person we love, and to form a lasting bond and a social identity.

The Supreme Court has said that marriage is a part of the Constitution’s protections of liberty, privacy, freedom of association, and spiritual identification. In short, the right to marry helps us to define ourselves, and our place in a community. Without it, there can be no true equality under the law.”

Another popular argument is the economic benefits of heterosexual couples. In Adam Kolasinski’s article, The Secular Case against Gay Marriage, he writes “Because a marriage between two unrelated heterosexuals is likely to result in a family with children, and propagation of society is a compelling state interest. For this reason, states have, in varying degrees, restricted from marriage couples unlikely to produce children.”

But do same-sex marriages discourage heterosexual couples to have children? What about sterile individuals? Should they not have the right to get married? The discrimination against the LGBT community is obvious.

The callous politicians who continue to ban same-sex marriage need to be confronted, but an even more difficult task is at hand. How to rid individuals of preconceived biases and hatred for gays and lesbians? Discrimination of gays has a deep connection to religious ethic in this country, particularly certain Christian denominations.

This is not to say all of these denominations do not accept the LGBT community. No matter what the belief, separation of church and state exists. Former President John Adams wrote in the Treaty of Tripoli, “…the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” a fact that is missing from today’s discourse on gay rights.

More importantly, missing from discourse of those who oppose same-sex marriage is empathy.