By Taylor Hall
The Supreme Court will take up two cases dealing with same-sex marriage and should arrive at a decision around June. If the court makes a substantive ruling, it may overturn many state laws — allowing same-sex couples the right to civil marriage. Or it may uphold laws like California’s constitutional amendment, Proposition8, which only allows for traditional civil marriages. Whether justices think gay marriage is right or wrong, their job is to interpret the Constitution. Otherwise, we have activist judges who make the law based on whatever their fiat dictates. I think the court should ultimately decide to leave the question of allowing same-sex couples the status of a civil marriage to the respective elected state legislature and their constituency.
Probably the best argument gay marriage advocates have is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It says, “[no state shall] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” More broadly, it could be interpreted as “no state shall deny to any person the equal treatment of the laws.” Gay-marriage advocates may say that this grants same-sex couples the same status that opposite-sex couples have in a civil marriage because their marriages are not treated equally or with the same status.
Hall lives in Floyd and has taught in Seoul, South Korea.