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Church State Issues

Legalizing gay marriage should be easy

Jan 23, 2015

Arizona Republic

If you ask me marriage should be a civil or religious contract between two or more people and the govenrment shouldn't be in the business of deciding who can or can't get married.

If 3 guys want to get married that should be THEIR business, not the government's.

If 3 women want to get married that should be THEIR business, not the government's.

If 1 women and 2 guys want to get married that should be THEIR business, not the government's.

If 1 guy and 2 women want to get married that should be THEIR business, not the government's.

Legalizing gay marriage should be easy

Editorial board, The Republic | 5:25 p.m. MST January 21, 2015

Our View: All it takes is changing a few words in a key court decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court is there.

It should be easy for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage.

All the justices have to do is change a few words.

In the court's 1967 Loving vs. Virginia decision, then-Chief Justice Earl Warren called bans on interracial marriage "subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the 14th Amendment."

He also used words like "invidious" and "unsupportable."

"Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State," he wrote.

Just replace the words "of another race" with "of the same gender." Done.

The Supreme Court won't be blazing any social-policy trails by making it clear that same-sex couples deserve the right to marry. In the court of public opinion, the debate is over. The majority of Americans support marriage equality, and same-sex couples can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Laws barring same-sex marriage began to fall rapidly after two Supreme Court landmark actions in 2013.

The first ruling struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. In the second, the high court declined to review a lower court ruling against a voter-passed initiative that banned same-sex marriage, saying those who brought the appeal lacked legal standing. The effect was to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California.

The court did not, however, issue a blanket endorsement of same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, the rejection of bans on same-sex marriage began trending in appeals courts.

In October, the Supreme Court refused to review lower court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage, making it look even more as though we were on a steady march toward marriage equality. More than 70 percent of Americans live in states where same-sex marriage is legal, according to USA TODAY.

In November, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals bucked the trend. It upheld four states' marriage bans, saying it was "better … to allow change through the customary political processes" rather than by court ruling.

This created a conflict with appeals courts in the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th circuits, which all ruled in favor of marriage equality.

Now the Supreme Court will look at two questions: Does the 14th Amendment require a state to sanction same-sex marriages? Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state?

Supporters of the bans argue that marriage has long been the purview of the states. Ironically, this echoes Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's reasoning as he wrote for the majority in the DOMA case. He pointed out that states had long determined rules on marriage, and that the federal law's principal effect was "to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal."

But he also noted in his opinion that state laws "must respect the constitutional rights of persons," and he cited Loving vs. Virginia.

The court could engage in tortured logic to uphold bans based on states' rights or the argument that major social change should not come at the end of a gavel.

But it would be cleaner to simply recognize the parallels between those old bans on interracial marriage and current bans on same-sex marriage.

Or as Earl Warren put it in 1967: "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."

Replace "racial classifications" with "sexual orientation" and you've got a historic opinion for 2015.