America is on the verge of giving marriage equality to gays and lesbians, a victory for both the Gospel and the U.S. Constitution. Praise God and Thomas Jefferson.
The responses to the Ninth Circuit’s decision on Proposition 8 were predictable. “Liberal, unelected judges” are attacking traditional marriage, screamed one of the presidential candidates.
The LDS Church, a Proposition 8 supporter, responded to the Deseret News, "California voters have twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman," Church spokesman Scott Trotter said in the statement. "We have always had that view. Courts should not alter that definition, especially when the people of California have spoken so clearly on the subject."
In this case the right at stake is the right to marry whom you choose. Would the critics have targeted those “liberal, unelected judges” if it had been another “right.” What if Massachusetts voters passed a referendum banning handguns? Gun rights advocates would have been up in arms. They’d expect judges to rule voters cannot pass unconstitutional measures.
And they’d be right.
This isn’t the first time voters’ emotions have been inflamed enough to pass ballot measures violating the constitution and judges have been asked to preserve the constitution against the pitchfork crowd. Colorado voters passed one preventing communities from providing homosexuals with "minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination.”
The Supreme Court ruled the voters couldn’t do that. In Romer vs. Evans, the Court ruled neither governments nor voters have any legitimate interest in denying rights to people based on their sexual preference.
There is nothing new about state and local governments (and sometimes voters) trying to deprive one group of people or another of certain rights. They always have their reasons. The reasons most opponents advance for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples are narrowly religious in nature. They talk about “traditional” or “Biblical” marriage, the purpose of procreation and the historic nature of marriages between one man and one woman.
The ruling says, "Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”
Just as Southern views of blacks were not upheld as “legitimate” reasons to prevent them from voting, your views of the nature of someone else’s marriage is not a legitimate cause to deny that right.
Prop 8 "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the opinion.
It doesn’t matter whether an unconstitutional law is passed by the city council, the legislature or the voters. Using voters instead of legislators to deny rights does not elevate the result above the US Constitution.
Opponents of marriage equality should understand that lawmakers in a free society cannot use their or your religious beliefs to prop up any law they want to enact. When they do, the “unelected judges” have little choice but to strike it down. In a free society, the courts stand between us and those who would deny us our rights.
Religious beliefs on this issue are not uniform. Many believers think the institution of marriage is best served by allowing people who are in loving relationships to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. We believe the hallmarks of a good marriage, e.g. love, honesty, loyalty, commitment, devotion, all are as much a part of a same-sex marriage as one between a man and a woman.
The Courts teach that if same-sex marriage violates your religious beliefs, take the case to the congregation of your church, not to the halls of our legislature or the public ballot.