The California Supreme Court’s landmark decision that invalidates the law against same-sex marriage has elicited a chorus of jubilation in the gay and lesbian community across the nation and among its ardent supporters.
Such recognition of everyone’s right to form a family through marriage catapults California, a state known for its leadership in controversial policies, onto a significant pedestal in influencing the rest of America. At present, only eight states allow civil unions and domestic partnerships of gay couples, and an overwhelming 26 states constitutionally ban same-sex marriage. Although it is the second state only after Massachusetts to allow same-sex unions, California has taken a major step in affirming the constitutionally enshrined rights of the members of the gay and lesbian community.
Poised to take the issue to the November ballot, zealous anti-gay movements, on the other hand, are promising a vitriolic political and ideological campaign to demonize the legality of the high court’s decision. However, the exponents of these interest groups build their arguments against same-sex marriage from personal beliefs and societal norms, which more often than not, overlook the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.
Coalescing with these homophobic movements are ultra-conservative religious groups and church evangelicals who have branded homosexuality as evil and same-sex marriage as blasphemy against the sanctity of matrimony. They even preach that God will send a second great flooding to annihilate those who want and advocate for same-sex marriage. But so far, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain, predominantly Christian countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, have not suffered heaven’s wrath.
The assumption that only the union between a man and a woman justifies sacredness is illogical and preposterous. The encompassing power of love, not gender, makes a marriage sanctimonious. So why not bestow same-sex couples united by love and commitment the equal rights and privileges as heterosexual couples to walk down the aisle and create their families? Same-sex marriage is a matter of choice. No one is forcing anyone to embrace same-sex marriage. It is as simple as this: If you do not want one, then do not get one.
These people who belong to anti-gay groups have successfully dictated the definition of marriage as union between one man and one woman. However, the meaning of marriage must not be premised on personal and spiritual beliefs, which entirely relegate gays and lesbians as second-class citizens. What must redefine marriage are the very basic constitutional values of fairness and equality, not religious dogma.
In the words of Chief Justice Ronald George, “The California Constitution must be properly interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians.” The noble justices who have understood and defended such ideals of the constitution deserve praise and admiration for protecting individual rights.
By ruling that ban on same-sex marriage is a violation of equal protection clause of the constitution, the California Supreme Court has sent a very clear message. Same-sex couples not only have the same inherent right to marry like heterosexual couples, but also the right to form a dignified family instituted on lasting affection. And of course, such granting of matrimonial rights to same-sex couples also comes with the inviolable freedom to care for and raise their own children in any method of upbringing they choose.
However, this issue is far from over yet. This milestone in civil rights is undoubtedly still vulnerable to the impending threats of the right-wing ideologists. But at least the monumental step California has taken would reverberate loudly and clearly in shaping public opinion and enlightening narrow minds. Californians must fight back to uphold such an advancement in equality.
REAGAN PARLAN welcomes your comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.