Target: United States Supreme Court
Goal: Strike down state bans on same-sex marriage and compel recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.
This Tuesday, April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court will engage in historic arguments that will very likely define the future of marriage rights in this country and how they are enforced. Four states–Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky–are defending their bans against the amalgamated cases of twelve couples and two widowers. Also at stake is whether states with bans shall be compelled to recognize other states’ legal same-sex marriages.
Essentially, the court’s decision comes down to a choice of state’s rights vs. individual rights, as well as majority rights vs. minority rights. Should a state be allowed to pass a law, even a democratically determined law, if it infringes on an individual’s fundamental rights?
According to NPR, “the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that marriage is a fundamental right that the state cannot abridge without some real justification.” The court has determined that prisoners, couples who cannot afford child support payments, and (most importantly) interracial couples have the right to marry, independent of what a state or its population believes or has believed about the subject. Therefore, a state must present a “real justification” in order to abridge the right to wed. Could there possibly be any such justification?
One claim, presented by John Bursch, the attorney representing the four states, is that “Michigan has a legitimate interest in encouraging opposite-sex couples to enter into permanent, exclusive unions within which to have and raise children.” Yet Michigan allows infertile and elderly couples to marry.
Further, states have long recognized marriages from out of state, regardless of their in-state legality. If for example, an individual was too young to be legally married in a hypothetical state, but (s)he was already married legally in another state, that marriage would be legitimate wherever the couple traveled or moved to.
Though 36 states have now formally legalized same-sex marriage, and public opinion in favor of marriage equality has increased exponentially in recent years, many couples and individuals struggle with the issue every day. For example, take Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a Michigan couple with four adopted children. Because it is legal for a single person to adopt in Michigan, but not a same-sex couple, each woman has individually adopted two children. This means that if, tragically, one of the women were to be killed, the two children she had legal custody over would almost certainly be separated from their siblings and surviving parent.
Similarly, widower Jim Obergefell is facing an absurd appeal from the state of Ohio regarding the listing of his name as the surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate because their marriage was performed in Maryland, even though the certificate was ordered by a federal judge.
For states to claim that their sovereignty is being infringed upon by the government while themselves infringing upon the rights of their individual citizens is at best nonsensical and at worst tyrannical, while indicating a complete disregard for our nation’s history of civil rights abuses at the hands of states. Sign this petition to help ensure that the Supreme Court chooses progress for individual liberty over an abstract conception of a territory’s supposed right to sovereignty in defining how its citizens may pursue love and happiness and define the family unit.
Dear Justices of the SCOTUS,
You are scheduled to hear arguments over four states’ bans of same-sex marriage and over whether it is okay for any of these states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages that occurred legally out of state. We request that you choose the side of liberty, freedom, and universal and fair application of all laws and rights. Individual states within this nation have committed some of the most horrid human rights abuses this planet has ever seen and justified them with arguments about state rights. But how can a state have rights that trump those of individuals?
The Supreme Court determined in 1967 that interracial marriage was legal at a time when popular opinion in many states was opposed. However, the Court determined that the “equal protection of laws” (the fourteenth amendment) was more important than an ethically unjustifiable and conspicuously unconstitutional popular opinion and a state’s desire to indulge its citizens wishes.
Marriage is a legal right, and therefore can be denied to no one. There is no reasonable justification for depriving a small group of individuals this right. Individuals opposed to same-sex marriage have nothing more than vague and ideological reasons to object, while the plaintiffs in Tuesday’s case are concerned with how the law will directly effect their real, concrete, day-to-day individual liberties and pursuit of happiness.
Therefore, I ask that the Court overturn these states’ unconstitutional, inhumane, and unjustifiable same-sex marriage bans, and that the Court compel states to recognize marriages that originated out-of-state. An individual’s constitutional rights must always come before a state’s sovereignty and public opinion. One need not look to far into our nations recent history to see why.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr