In the United States there is a strongly divisive argument over whether gay couples have the right to marry or not. It was ordained in the founding documents of this nation that all are equal, and all people have the same freedoms. It is important for all to be involved in this debate as its ripples have the potential to affect us all down the line. We all share rights we can lose if we do not act to preserve and protect the rights of others.
The 14th Amendment offers everyone within the jurisdiction of the states “the equal protection of the law.” This guarantee is afforded to “any person,” not just citizens, in the territories of the United States, including Puerto Rico Guam, and all other “possessions.”
It would appear some citizens do not understand the meaning of equal in this context. It means that all people, regardless of who they are and what they do, should be treated the same.
Blacks are fully human, women can vote and gays have rights. How would you feel if you were told the person you share your life with was in the hospital and you could not visit?
The Ninth Amendment of our Constitution also protects the rights of gay Americans. It states: “the enumeration…of certain rights, shall not be construed to disparage or deny others retained by the people.”
Just because it isn’t explicitly stated in the Constitution does not mean it isn’t a right. In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled people had the right to free and private association by combining the authority of the First and Fourth amendments under the broad meaning of the Ninth Amendment.
In other words, no partners can be banned from being a couple or doing what they want in the privacy of their homes. They cannot be prosecuted for filing marriage licenses where they expose the nature of their couple. By extension, the Ninth also protects all other facets of their freedoms as well.
Some would argue gay marriage tears the moral fabric of our society, and they are free to voice that opinion. They happen to be mistaken. It goes against our American values to deny others the right.
This fact is often met by the idea that the United States is a nation based in Christianity, and I will grant you many of the founding fathers were Christians. I must cite the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams and unanimously ratified by the Senate in 1797. Article 12 reads “the government of the United States is not, in any case, founded on the Christian religion.”
If a church, or any other group of people choose not to recognize gay marriage, then they do not have to perform the ceremony, but they must recognize the legality of that union.
As Supreme Court Justice John Harlan wrote in the dissenting opinion for Plessy v. Ferguson (later the basis for the Brown v. Board of Education majority opinion,) “the law is blind.”
Thus; gays, straights, whites, blacks, Martians, or otherwise cannot be denied a right simply on the grounds that they are different. That would be against our founding decisions and documents.
Gay marriage has already been blessed by our highest authority, the Constitution, and therefore has already been granted. Now it is time for us to take up our founders’ mantel.
“What can I do?” Be vocal. Protect the rights of others as if yours are under assault.
When times are good, our rights are just icing. It is when we quarrel with each other that protecting our rights, especially those of the minority, is of greatest importance.
Vote. When initiatives and proposed amendments come up on the ballot, vote to uphold the Constitution and the rights it grants us all. We are the people who must ensure the right for a greater public good, or ours may one day be taken.