SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

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Martin Blank
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SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by Martin Blank » Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:39 pm

In a 5-4 decision with Kennedy (unsurprisingly) as the deciding vote, the Supreme Court has found that marriage is a fundamental right that cannot be denied on the basis of sexuality. I'm going to include a few quotes from the decision here, but I won't go into much detail since I think everyone knows this one well already.
[Petitioners] assert the petitioners do not seek to exercise the right to marry but rather a new and nonexistent “right to same-sex marriage.” Glucksberg did insist that liberty under the Due Process Clause
must be defined in a most circumscribed manner, with central reference to specific historical practices. Yet while that approach may have been appropriate for the asserted right there involved (physician-assisted suicide), it is inconsistent with the approach this Court has used in discussing other fundamental rights, including marriage and intimacy. Loving did not ask about a “right to interracial marriage”; Turner did not ask about a “right of inmates to marry”; and Zablocki did not ask about a “right of fathers with unpaid child support duties to marry.” Rather, each case inquired about the right to marry in its comprehensive sense, asking if there was a sufficient justification for excluding the relevant class from the right.
It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality. Here the marriage laws enforced by the respondents are in essence unequal: same-sex couples are denied all the benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples and are barred from exercising a fundamental right. Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.

These considerations lead to the conclusion that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled, and the State laws challenged by Petitioners in these cases are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.
Of course, the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, so long as that process does not abridge fundamental rights. Last Term, a plurality of this Court reaffirmed the importance of the democratic principle in Schuette v. BAMN, noting the “right of citizens to debate so they can learn and decide and then, through the political process, act in concert to try to shape the course of their own times.” Indeed, it is most often through democracy that liberty is preserved and protected in our lives. But as Schuette also said, “[t]he freedom secured by the Constitution consists, in one of its essential dimensions, of the right of the individual not to be injured by the unlawful exercise of governmental power.” Thus, when the rights of persons are violated, “the Constitution requires redress by the courts,” notwithstanding the more general value of democratic decisionmaking. This holds true even when protecting individual rights affects issues of the utmost importance and sensitivity.

The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right. The Nation’s courts are open to injured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter. An individual can invoke a right to constitutional protection when he or she is harmed, even if the broader public disagrees and even if the legislature refuses to act. The idea of the Constitution “was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” This is why “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process. The issue before the Court here is the legal question whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
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Re: SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by Deacon » Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:57 am

I would argue that the correct description would be not in favor of same-sex marriage but against oppression of consenting adults who should otherwise receive equal protection under the Constitution.

I know the popular hashtag is #LoveWins but I think it's more that freedom wins.
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Re: SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by NorthernComfort » Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:50 am

Texas is going into the future kicking and screaming. Gov. Abbott is essentially declaring open season against same-sex couples employed by the state, telling his directors not to take action against any official who openly discriminates due to their religious belief.
"This order applies to any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations," Abbott wrote.
Apparently granting benefits to your employees also violates precious religious beliefs. I wonder how many Supreme Court rulings it will take to make people not be utter assholes.
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Re: SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by Deacon » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:50 am

It's difficult for me to understand what that really means. A government official's religious views, whatever they may be, are and should always be irrelevant to the execution of their duties. If they feel they are unable to execute on their duties because of a religious belief (such as hypocritical clerks who feel that anyone born gay is subhuman filth whose otherwise fully legal marriage licenses they cannot in good conscience grant), they should either be fired (if they don't quit) or apply to transfer to an equal or lesser position where they feel they'd be more comfortable, with no special consideration granted.

For reference, there's already a petition going up online to initiate a recall. Not sure how much validity it has or whether it would really change anything even if it came to fruition. Most people's complaints center around this most recent order as well as appointing what many believe to be unqualified chair for Education Board, calling the Texas Guard to protect Texas from US Military exercise, overriding local bans on fracking, changing the State House voting criteria to "simple majority" (without clear authority to do so), and attempting to shut down public health clinics that perform otherwise legal abortions. Not really sure an online petition will be the answer, though. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/impeac ... y=13532963

By the way, can anyone confirm whether the Supreme Court ruled the Constituion guarantees a right to gay marriage, versus that banning gay marriage violates the 14th Amendment? In all the noise it's difficult to tell for sure, and honestly combing through the entire decisions doesn't sound appealing.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by Martin Blank » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:15 pm

Deacon wrote:It's difficult for me to understand what that really means. A government official's religious views, whatever they may be, are and should always be irrelevant to the execution of their duties. If they feel they are unable to execute on their duties because of a religious belief (such as hypocritical clerks who feel that anyone born gay is subhuman filth whose otherwise fully legal marriage licenses they cannot in good conscience grant), they should either be fired (if they don't quit) or apply to transfer to an equal or lesser position where they feel they'd be more comfortable, with no special consideration granted.'
This is exactly how I feel. I thought about the best way for a clerk to protest this in a way that doesn't get them pasted as a racist (like by saying they don't believe Jews should be married or something like that). I figured that a clerk who denied two elderly people a marriage license by claiming that marriage is primarily (or even solely) for procreation and since the woman is clearly unable to bear a child they should not get married. It would quickly show the true value of the directive and how it can be easily abused, and hopefully scuttle it in short order.
For reference, there's already a petition going up online to initiate a recall. Not sure how much validity it has or whether it would really change anything even if it came to fruition. Most people's complaints center around this most recent order as well as appointing what many believe to be unqualified chair for Education Board, calling the Texas Guard to protect Texas from US Military exercise, overriding local bans on fracking, changing the State House voting criteria to "simple majority" (without clear authority to do so), and attempting to shut down public health clinics that perform otherwise legal abortions. Not really sure an online petition will be the answer, though. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/impeac ... y=13532963
Abbott is not worthy of holding the position of attorney general, much less governor. I have a feeling that the investigation into Rick Perry's actions regarding the bond-funded medical research project are going to drag Abbott in, and evidence will be found of malfeasance. Unfortunately, Texas does not have laws allowing for recall of statewide offices. The only way to remove Abbott is by impeachment in the House and and conviction in the Senate. (It does not require specific charges, unlike the impeachment processes of the federal and many other state governments. The legislature can technically just hate the way the official dresses enough to remove him.) Gov. James Ferguson was impeached and removed in 1917 on charges of embezzlement.
By the way, can anyone confirm whether the Supreme Court ruled the Constituion guarantees a right to gay marriage, versus that banning gay marriage violates the 14th Amendment? In all the noise it's difficult to tell for sure, and honestly combing through the entire decisions doesn't sound appealing.
I'm not sure that it can be laid down quite that simply. Numerous decisions by the Supreme Court have held that marriage is a fundamental right based on four premises:
  • individual autonomy to choose one's marriage partner (Loving v. Virginia, which overturned bans on interracial marriage)
  • marriage is a unique bond between two people that brings with it intimate associations unlike those of other relationships (Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned bans on married couples using contraception)
  • marriage safeguards children and families, "[drawing] meaning from related rights of child-rearing, procreation, and education" (cemented in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, among others); children growing up in a married home have more certainty and less social stigma, but a marriage is not lesser because children are not involved
  • marriage is a keystone of the country's social order, made all the more so by states placing it at the center of so many laws and regulations, but even without such laws, society would continue to hold marriage as the center of much of daily life (Maynard v. Hill)
None of these things is unique to heterosexual marriage, and to deny them to same-sex couples is to demean the same-sex couple socially, economically, and legally. As marriage is a fundamental right of the person--every person--so the Fourteenth Amendment protects same-sex couples from being denied that right.

Incidentally, the first gay couple married in Dallas were Jack Evans, 85, and George Harris, 82. They have been together for 54 years. Anyone who stays together that long deserves credit, and they deserve even more when they've been subject to discrimination for almost the entire time.
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Re: SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Post by Deacon » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:19 am

I think your quote-fu needs practice, but thank you for clarifying. It makes sense now and is essentially what I thought it was.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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