“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
-14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
“The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from the Amendment’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles.”
-Majority Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage by Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority.
The 5-4 ruling in favor of marriage equality today by the United States Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority, draws upon the deep well- springs of the 14th Amendment, and it’s promise to all citizens the equal protection of the laws.
The decision implicitly and explicitly recognizes that same-sex couples have been previously denied what is a fundamental right of all other Americans. Thus, in the most simple terms Gay and Lesbian couples have by States that do not recognize Gay Marriage been denied the equal protection of the laws or in other words equal treatment under the law.
Since 1868, when the 14th Amendment first went into effect, just about any American who believed they have been denied equal treatment under the law have petitioned the court for relief under this provision of the Constitution. Even businesses are accorded this despite plainly not being human beings, the application of this fundamental principle being so large and influential.
People who love someone of the same sex or gender and who share the same sexual orientation hardwired into them by God, or by biological randomness, can’t be denied what the overwhelming majority of Americans have had all along. Being treated with equality to other citizens directly implies that no American should have different rights or lesser protection under the law. Here too with justice and dignity this principle has been applied by the court’s majority.
The four dissenting justices all wrote their own independent opinions, that nevertheless, all said that this case is not appropriate to bring to the Supreme Court, but that it was constitutionally only permitted to be enacted into law by the legislative branch.
In addition to Justice Antonin Scalia having totally wigged out in consecutive court decisions, this, my friends, is complete horse manure to put it kindly. Any citizen of this nation can go to the Federal Courts seeking relief when that citizen or citizens believe they have been denied their fundamental constitutional rights. The precedents for the progress through the Federal Courts on up to Supreme Court are so multiplicative as to embarrass the four justices who wrote the dissenting opinions.
The legislative branch does indeed have the primary responsibility for making laws that protect the civil and human rights of our citizens, and to do so in a constitutional manner. But saying this progression of this case was not in accord with our constitution is simply wrong. The court did not say in Citizens United, a decision most progressives, and even some moderates abhor, that it was wrong for the court to take it up at all, and that it could only be legislated into being.
Kennedy was eloquent in recognizing the human dimensions of this injustice requiring the court to act as it did:
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.
It is so ordered.
Kennedy’s righteous words speak to the best that is in what our people have made in this republican democracy, and defended with their very lives to preserve. The extension of a fundamental civil, nay human right to others is glorious indeed.