The Power Reserved to the Several States
by Bryan Driscoll •
The Supreme Court of the United States, as you’ve no doubt heard by now, ruled a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ruled only on procedural grounds on California’s Proposition 8 case thus leaving marriage equality to the several states. While I do not necessarily agree that we should be leaving equality up to individual states, as many states have shown a desire to curb equality, this is now the law of the land. In practice, these two decisions add fuel to the fire and the debate rages on.
Conservatives want the federal government to show deference to the states when the crazy liberals come to take their guns. Conservatives want the federal government to show deference to the states when challenges are made to electoral gerrymandering. Conservatives want federal governmental action in the form of deference to the states to allow each state to determine what is right for itself and its citizens. How, then, can conservatives reconcile the above with their desire for the federal government to step in and legislate states marriage laws? They can’t, at least not without being incredibly hypocritical.
The Supreme Court ruling does not make same sex marriage legal in all 51 jurisdictions. The ruling simply makes federal benefits available to those states who wish to grant same sex marriage or civil unions. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court can do nothing about discrimination. Homosexual couples will still be discriminated against, especially in the 29 jurisdictions in this country that allow an individual to be terminated from a job because of their sexual preference.
Conservatives complain that liberals are trying to legislate people’s thoughts. While I understand why they hold that view, I fail to comprehend why they would not be ready, willing and able to change their discriminatory views. Conservatives are concerned because same sex marriage might become the law of the land sooner than later. Good! Equality under the law is something that should be celebrated, not condemned. The abolition of slavery, the granting of basic human rights to minorities and women were certainly struggles but struggles that were worthy of fighting for and overcoming. Slowly but surely, we, as a nation, are moving toward equality, proven by recent polls showing a large majority of Americans support same sex marriage. As we, as individuals and a nation, evolve, so must our laws.
Just as when this nation outlawed slavery, allowed minorities and women the privilege of voting, our nation will survive. In fact, our nation is stronger for showing to the world that we are a nation of equals under the law. There is still work to be done but this is most certainly a step in the right direction.