The US Supreme Court is expected
to rule soon regarding same sex marriage. Ted Olson and David Boies (from opposite
sides of Gore Vs Bush during the 2000 US Presidential Election) , made the case before the Supreme Court that every American
is guaranteed the freedom to marry the person they love on Tuesday, March 26. They represent two couples, Kris Perry &
Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, who, like so many Americans, want the freedom to marry and have been prohibited
from marriage through California’s “Proposition 8”.
At the heart of the matter is
“Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage
as the union of a man and a woman.” The case is about equality. It raises the issue of whether gay and lesbian individuals are equal under
the laws of the United States. The law in California denies gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to marry which many
believe is in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the US Constitution.
In the past marriage was predicated upon a “presumption of
a division of labor along gender lines and under the doctrine of coverture the husband was the legal head of the household.”
In fact, the English Barrister, Blackstone
described “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence
of the woman is suspended during the marriage.” This legal definition of marriage as coverture ended through various
rulings during the 19th and 20th centuries.
and Boies state: “Thus, marriage is no longer defined in this country by the traditional genderroles of the respective spouses.
Rather, marriage is animated by “recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, and to
remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic
partnership and support one another and any dependents…”
They note that historic restrictions to marriage laws
in the past “prevented individuals from having complete choice on whom they married, in a way that designated some groups
as less worthy than other groups.” Laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage were established in 41 states until anti-miscengenation
laws were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1967 when “the Court recognized race restrictions, despite their historical
prevalence, stood in stark contrast to the concepts of liberty and choice inherent in the right to marry.”
The benefits to marriage such as: Tax benefits (retirement
benefits, child tax credits, etc.) health insurance and medical leave benefits, immigration, and other benefits are not uniformly
available to same-sex partners; should be available to all couples who chose life-partners. Expansion of the rights of marriage
will add to the stability of families and to the stability of our communities.