Yesterday, voters in Maine rejected that state's attempt to legalize gay marriage, becoming the 31st state to reject such a measure. Supporters of the law are understandably dejected, but they shouldn't be too upset.
It is only a matter of time until the Supreme Court wades into the issue and announces it is unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to gay citizens.
As Justice Robert Jackson stated in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, "One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
Putting aside the fact that the Barnette case dealt with a requirement that school children salute the American flag, Justice Jackson's point is entirely applicable to the gay marriage debate.
The idea that one can be denied the right to marry another person simply because of sexual orientation will be extinct in the near future. In Loving v. Virginia, which outlawed bans on interracial marriage, the Supreme Court stated "there can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause."
Marriage is a legal institution, not a religious one. While many heterosexual couples are married in churches (myself included), and those ceremonies certainly carry religious overtones, the ceremony is all pomp and circumstance. Nothing's official until the wedding license is taken care of, and that license is signed and filed with the county clerk's office.
The people who oppose gay marriage are simply on the losing end of the argument. You can think homosexuality is a sin, or is morally reprehensible, all you want. You can believe to your core that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage. You can rail about how it corrupts children.
Think all of that all you want. It doesn't change the fact that society as a whole is taking a more open view of homosexuality. The Maine vote at last check was somewhere around 53 percent of the population disapproved of the law. Twenty or thirty years ago that number would most certainly have been north of 75 percent.
People who oppose gay marriage have a litany of reasons for doing so. The instant science is able to conclusively prove that sexual orientation is genetic, for people immune to all logical thought that says it is anyway, that sentence from Loving v. Virginia will be read to replace "racial classifications" with "sexual orientation."
Even without a scientific breakthrough, at some point the Supreme Court will grow a spine and address the issue in the near future. And when it does, it will declare bans on gay marriage to be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
As it should.
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