Today marks an historic landmark for the freedom of Americans. With the 5-4 Supreme Court decision to overturn Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal policy to restrict benefits from gay couples, the federal government will be forced to recognize gay, legally married couples. Plain and simple, gay couples will now have access to the same benefits, from a federal standpoint, as those who are in heterosexual marriages. However, it is important to note that individual states will still be able to determine for themselves whether or not to allow gay marriage. This is a giant leap forward for the rights of the American LGBT community. The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 under the Clinton administration. States then had the ability to choose whether or not they wanted to recognize gay marriage as legitimate. The Supreme Court deemed Section 3 unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the 5th Amendment.” As of now, the remainder of DOMA remains in effect. However, lawmakers like Nancy Pelosi were quick to make it clear that there will be new legislation proposed to overturn what is left of DOMA.
This day also marks the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8, which hails from California as a ballot proposition and then became a state constitutional amendment in 2008. Essentially, Prop. 8 was voted in by the constituency of the state to only recognize marriage as between a man and a woman. Gay couples, who had enjoyed the right to marry previously after the court case In re Marriage Cases in California, were no longer recognized as legitimate. The majority vote had been recognized and upheld for five years before today. California’s same-sex couples will now be afforded the rights that had been taken away. These two decisions have set landmark precedence for the future development in the same-sex marriage movement.
Opponents and dissenters of the SCOTUS decision have cited a lapse in judgment in relation to the states’ ability to have voters make these decisions. Michelle Bachmann, in a press conference shortly after the verdict had been rendered, said “This decision is one that is profound because the Supreme Court not only attacked our Constitution today, they not only attacked the equal protection rights of every citizen under our Constitution, they attacked something that they have no jurisdiction over whatsoever, the foundational unit of our society, which is marriage.” While I, personally, believe with an undying fire in the integrity and the preservation of our democratic process, it is important to recognize a concept known as “tyranny of the majority.” Before I continue, all readers must be aware that the beliefs expressed in this piece are my own, not that of the Review. Every member of my staff is entitled to the expression of their own beliefs and in the event that any disagree with my assessment, I don’t want them to fall within my scope of moral authority. I lead the Review as editor-in-chief, but my opinions are my own. Moving on, overturning the decisions of voters is 99.99% of the time evil and wrong. So, dear reader, ask yourself when it is virtuous and right… The answer is when that voting majority uses its power to move the nation in a direction that violates the constitutional and individual rights of any minority. Denying the right to marriage for same-sex couples under the guise of majority consent does not make it right. In short, once the parameters of constitutional and individual protections have been met, then the majority decision must be respected. Remember that democracy has been responsible for the systematic abuse of oppressed people since its birth. What makes our democracy unique is protecting the few from the many. Even Jefferson’s words “all men are created equal…” only applied to white, male landowners. It is our duty to extend equality to every American, no matter any intrinsic qualities that separate and diversify.
What’s your take on the issue? Did the Supreme Court make the right call? Should the government be involved in marriage at all?