Monday, 29 June 2015

Same sex marriages approved in the United States                       

It has taken many years before same sex marriages were finally permitted in all of the United States. It was an uphill struggle for couples of the same sex to legitimize their marriages. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made the dreams of marriage for same sex couples become a reality.

Over a period of many years, I have seen vast changes take place with respect to governments finally accepting the facts that same sex couples are not committing crimes when they have sex together. Until the mid-20th century, same-sex intimacy long had been condemned as immoral by the state itself in most Western nations, a belief often embodied in the criminal law. For this reason, among others, many persons did not deem homosexuals to have dignity in their own distinct identity. A truthful declaration by same-sex couples of what was in their hearts had to remain unspoken for so long.

On December 21, 1967, Justice Minister and future Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality by announcing in the House of Commons when he stated; “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” He in effect had legalized homosexuality between same sex partners. Sodomy had been decriminalized in the U.K. that same year.  Prior to those decisions, sodomy was punishable by 14 years in prison. Almost a half century later, all the State governments in the United States have now accepted the fact that same sex couples can legitimately marry one another in all of the States in that nation.  Canada has a reputation for being socially progressive, benevolent and forward-thinking and for this reason; same sex marriages in Canada were approved several years earlier than those in the United States.    

Unfortunately, the attitude of non-homosexuals towards gays and lesbians previously continued to be prevalent in Canada. An example of this took place in the city of Toronto. On February 9, 1976, two gay men standing on a busy corner in downtown Toronto kissed one another. They were arrested by a police officer and charged with committing an indecent act. At their trial, the judge found them guilty as charged and both were fined $50.  It was ironic that the two men were actually posing for a magazine that was preparing an article on homophobia. By 2005, less than 30 years later, not only was it not a crime for those two men to kiss one another at that same corner, they were actually legally married at that same corner.

In October 1977, more than fifty policemen, some wearing bulletproof vests and armed with machine guns raided the Truxx and La Mystique gay bars and arrested 146 men, charging them with being found-ins in a common bawdy house. All of the men were taken to police headquarters, held without bail for fifteen hours and also subjected to compulsory VD testing. The next evening, about two thousand people protested what many saw as outrageous, and ongoing, police harassment of their community. A riotous crowd blocked Stanley and St-Catherine streets, forming the largest and most militant gay demonstration held in Canada to that time. Policemen on motorcycles (with sidecars) attacked the protesters, attempting to clear the street by driving into the crowd at high speed. Several demonstrators were run down; others were hit during indiscriminate billy-club attacks by the police. 

By 1980, after much bad publicity aimed at the police about abuses against gays and lesbians, the Hon. Roy McMurtry, the solicitor general of Ontario agreed to meet with a small deputation of gays to discuss their concerns about gays and lesbians being harassed by the police. Things improved to some degree for the gays and lesbians after that.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country outside Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition. Court decisions, starting in 2003, had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents comprised about 90% of Canada's population.

Before passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had already been married in those areas. Most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been extended to cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999. Further, as many as 28 countries around the world recognize same-sex marriages.

Up until June 26, 2015, only 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, allowed same-sex marriages. The remaining 13 states banned same-sex marriages. I am forced to ask, “But why?”

A state court in New York earlier remarked, “It is an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex.”  Many of those who are against same sex marriages argue that  permitting same sex marriages has been seen in many quarters of society, as a threat to marriage itself, and, with it, a threat to society’s capacity to renew itself generation after generation.  They believed that permitting same-sex marriage world-wide is nothing other than promoting a suicide pact for humanity. 

That belief borders on stupidity. The world presently has slightly over seven billion people. It is estimated that by 2020, the growth of the population will increase to 7.7 billion. By 2050, the population of the world will have increased to 9.6 billion people. If same sex marriages is going to stem the rate of births in this world, then that is going to be an advantage to the world.


The ratio between homosexuals and bisexuals to heterosexuals in the United States is one in ten. If that is the same ratio around the world, I don’t think humanity will become extinct.

These churches support the rights of gays and lesbians to marry both in the church and elsewhere. There are also progressive congregations and organizations within mainline Christian denominations that have not yet officially voiced official support for marriage equality, but have spoken out themselves in support of equal marriage rights in the church and elsewhere.

The Catholic Church has always been strongly against same sex marriages. Pope Francis says that the Church continues to regard marriage as being a union between a man and a woman. However he has also said that the issue of gay marriage should be studied and not dismissed out-of-hand. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the outspoken archbishop of New York, said Pope Francis had told him: “Rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people." In July, 2013 when asked about homosexual priests, he said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge them?”

This universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father with both committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.

There are three basic reasons why most heterosexual couples marry. They are—love for one another, companionship and having children. Many same sex marriages have the same reasons and although they can’t literally have children of their own, many adopt children and they too are committed to raising their adopted children in stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.

The Catholic Church has always referred to the Old Testament that has stated that man shall not lay with man. However, the Old Testament has also said that anyone who works on the Sabbath shall be slain. Obviously those two edicts are clearly outdated.

The Supreme Court of the United States in its ruling said that the right of same-sex couples to marry is derived from the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. The marriage laws at issue were in essence unequal. Same-sex couples were denied benefits that were afforded opposite-sex couples and [thusly same sex couples] were barred from exercising their fundamental right to be married. This is especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, [as] this denial works a grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate gays and lesbians.

The court also said; “The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State. Since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same sex character. unquote

The court also said; “From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. unquote

It is obvious that the Court also recognized that that paragraph applies to couples in same sex marriages.

There are many heterosexuals who will say that for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond.  That is drivel. Such a statement is in effect saying that there should be no sexual relationships between same sex couples because they are not committed to a lasting bond. 

 One thing I have noticed about same sex couples is that they tend to remain together longer than other marriages. This could be because only ten percent of the population are gays and lesbians so their search for other partners isn’t as easy as it is for straight couples who can search ninety percent of the population for unmarried people of their opposite sex.

As time moved on, greater numbers of gays and lesbians began living openly and many of them expressed a desire to have their relationships recognized as marriages. Over time, they saw marriage in a way that could be extended to same sex couples.

Over the last few years, public opinion on marriage has shifted rapidly. In 2009, the legislatures of Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia became the first in the United States to enact laws that revised the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, while also providing accommodations for religious believers. In 2011, the New York Legislature enacted a similar law. In 2012, voters in Maine did the same, reversing the result of a referendum just three years earlier in which they had upheld the traditional definition of marriage.  In all, voters and legislators in eleven States and the District of Columbia have changed their definitions of marriage to include same-sex couples. The highest courts of five States have decreed that same result under their own Constitutions. The remainder of the States retained the traditional definition of marriage.

Same sex couples who seek to acquire a legitimate marriage do not seek to "demean," “devalue,” “denigrate,” or “disrespect” the historical institution of marriage. They simply want to legitimize their relationship in the same way that non-same sex couples do. To deny them that right, conflicts with the US Constitution that guarantees equality to everyone.

Just as racial restrictions in the past denying the right to marry lacked a compelling justification, so does restricting marriage to only non-same sex couples. Removing racial barriers and same sex barriers to marriage therefore did not and does not change what a marriage was and still is any more than integrating schools changed what a school was and still is.  In short, the “right to marry” exists for all couples and is not limited to or restricted to only non-same sex couples as traditionally believed and previously defined because to deny the same rights afforded to same sex couples to be legitimately married as a couple violates their constitutional rights to be treated equally.

After this historic Supreme Court ruling made same sex marriage legal in all fifty states, same sex couples across the country flocked to courthouses to be legally married. Despite the ruling, an East Texas County Court clerk said that the court would not be issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples right away. Apparently, their forms were not gender specific. The clerk said to a lesbian couple and quite correctly, “Male is not something I can white out because that's a legal form. This is a state form and I can't do anything without a proper state form.” He was right. However when the new forms appear, the couple and other same sex couples can marry in that state.

The Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi requested in October 2014 that the state Supreme Court be allowed to decide whether same-sex couples can marry within its jurisdiction. By the time of the Supreme Court of the United States had made its ruling in favor of same sex marriages, the Florida State Supreme Court still hadn’t made its ruling. The Florida Governor, Rick Scot who is against same sex marriages said on the day the UN Supreme Court announced its decision, said that he will not permit same sex marriages in his state until he gets a ruling from his state’s Supreme Court. That is ludicrous. There is a Latin phrase that is used to cover this kind of situation. It is called Stare decisis et non quieta movere. It means that a lower court must adhere to the precedents of a higher court. There is no higher court in the United States than the Supreme Court of the United States and yet, the governor of Florida has vowed to continue the fight against marriage equality in Florida. That is as futile as attacking mosquitoes with chop sticks.

Just as criminal sodomy laws, bans on contraceptives and abortions invaded privacy by inviting unwarranted government interference; the governor of Florida is bringing about unwarranted interference with the rights of same sex couples who now have the legal right to be married in Florida. There are obviously stupid political boobs in every state and the State of Florida is no exception. 

The issue of same sex marriages rested on those justices in the Supreme Court of the United States which then decided by a majority vote in favor of same sex marriages. That is because their collective decision was based upon their own conviction that same sex couples should be allowed to marry if those couples want to, and to do otherwise would disparage the same sex couples individual choices and diminish their Constitutional rights by denying them the right to be married.

Their decision does not mark the first time the Court has been asked to adopt a cautious approach to recognizing and protecting fundamental rights however, it is a very powerful message to everyone in the United States that their constitutional rights are protected. It is also evidence that the Court is not afraid to scrap outdated laws.

There certainly is no justifiable reason to believe that the sanctity of marriage cannot be preserved by this recent Court’s decision. The sanctity of marriage is the concept of the sacredness of marriage. Marriage is one of the holiest of relations two people can have. Therefore, marriage is not something to be entered into lightly. Further, once couples are in a marriage, they must work hard to make it work. They have to treat it as sacred, and spend time making it work, no matter the cost. Why should anyone think that the sanctity of marriage wouldn’t be adhered to same sex couples? To say that it doesn’t apply to them is as stupid as saying that gravity doesn’t exist.

An opponent of same-sex marriage was quick to blast the Supreme Court's ruling in which it legalized same-sex marriage by publicly saying that the court overstepped its authority. general counsel, Andy Pugno, said in a statement on the day the decision was published by the Supreme Court. “Today's decision does grave injury to the basic concept that the people and not the courts make the law. A bare majority of the Supreme Court has abruptly cut off this ongoing debate, unilaterally imposing its view of what's good for society by suddenly discovering a new constitutional right that almost no one would have imagined just a few years ago.”

That man’s statement is childish at best. First, I will deal with his statement that the people make the law and not the courts. It is the legislators in each of the states that make the law. The role of the courts is to interpret the law and when necessary, either rule that a specific law is a bad law or that the law is a good law. Historically, the nine members of the Supreme Court of the United States have made a great many decisions in which the rulings have been five in favor and for four against.

As to the Court discovering a new constitutional right, I will say this about that statement of this childish man. The Court said;

 “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”

The Fourteenth Amendment is not a new law. It was adopted on July 9, 1868. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws of all the States in the Union. However, it doesn’t mean that bad laws should be protected. That is why the laws of slavery were deemed null and void by the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Supreme Court of the United States has the right to make those kinds of decisions.   

Andy Pugno lives in California so I have to presume that the laws he was speaking of were California laws. I will show you what the previous California law said about marriages performed in California as to who can be married in that state.

“Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4.”

Obviously the words “a man and a woman” are the contentious words that the Supreme Court decided should be excised from that particular law and for good reason. That law as it previously existed had in effect denied ten percent of the adults in that State from being married.  Any law that denies that many people their Constitutional right to the equality of law is a bad law and must be excised and reformed.  

This twit from also said, “The 'separation of powers they taught us in grade school is now dangerously out of balance  and it's time to remind the government that all constitutional power ultimately resides in the consent of the governed—not in kings, dictators or judges.”

Again he is wrong. Although the people can vote what laws they would like created for them, the ultimate decsision rests with the courts to make sure that the laws are not in conflict with the nation’s Constitution.

The words, “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW” written above the main entrance to the Supreme Court Building, express the ultimate responsibility of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court is the highest tribunal in the Nation for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or the laws of the United States. As the final arbiter of the law, the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court of the United States is distinctly American in concept and function. Few other courts in the world have the same authority of constitutional interpretation and none have exercised it for as long or with as much influence. 

When the Supreme Court of the United States made its ruling in favor of same sex marriages, it put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintained them and brought about breathtaking changes in the nation's social norms.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t mention in this article that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent, “This court is not a legislature. Whether [or not] same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.”

Despite having the respect I have for this man, I am convinced he is wrong. The members of the court should have concern about those seeking a ruling in their favor if what has happened to them conflicts with their rights afforded to them by the Fourteenth Amendment or any other Amendment. It is the role of that court to intercede on behalf of those who have been wronged by bad laws.

There are people who have extreme religious beliefs who probably will never approve of same sex marriages. That is their right, but they cannot, I repeat, cannot do anything that would hinder the rights of those who are gay or lesbian or those who are same sex married. This also means that those who are against same sex marriages should not refuse to let same sex couples worship in churches, synagogues, temples or mosques. However, the ministers, priests, rabbis and Imams are not legally bound to marry same sex couples if they do not want to.   

 The one thing that we who are married to someone of the opposite sex have over those who are same sex married. We have our own children and grandchildren and that is a blessing to us that can never quite be fully  appreciated by those who are same sex married. However, that is there choice and I cannot and will not fault them for making that choice.

The right of same sex marriages in the few countries that permit such unions is a small step for mankind. There are far more countries that haven't yet advanced that far in human rights. 

I sincerely hope that you have found this article interesting and informative. If not, that is your choice which I will not fault. 

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