The state of Virginia, like many states in the Union, had a statewide law prohibiting same-sex marriages. Had. Today a federal judge, Arenda Wright Allen, overturned that ban. For now, same–sex marriages are still on hold in Virginia until the appeals process on the ban is completed. That appeals process will likely end at the Supreme Court, and that ruling will be a crucial moment on how the federal government will choose to regard state laws concerning same-sex marriage. Eric Holder already made it clear that the federal government would be moving toward recognizing same-sex marriages and expanding the federal rights of homosexual couples, but a Supreme Court precedent would be an entirely different matter.
If the Supreme Court upholds overturning the Virginia ban, it is likely that the same-sex marriage debate will be, for all intents and purposes, over. At that point, the only inevitable conclusion will be for the federal government to mandate the national legality of same-sex marriage—citing the Supremacy Clause to unilaterally overturn any statewide prohibitions.
For now, however, the Virginia decision is a troubling misunderstanding of Constitutional law, the nature of equality, the definition of family, and the necessity for states to have autonomous jurisdiction within their borders on issues directly affecting the lives of individuals.
Judge Allen opened her decision with these words:
A spirited and controversial debate is underway regarding who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America. America has pursued a journey to make and keep our citizens free. This journey has never been easy, and at times has been painful and poignant. The ultimate exercise of our freedom is choice. Our Constitution declares that “all men” are created equal. Surely this means all of us. While ever-vigilant for the wisdom that can come from the voices of our voting public, our courts have never long tolerated the perpetuation of laws rooted in unlawful prejudice. One of the judiciary’s noblest endeavors is to scrutinize laws that emerge from such roots.
Notice from the outset that she has already colored this debate with her own assumptions. There is no “spirited and controversial debate” about “who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America.” None at all. Anyone and everyone may enjoy the right to marry within the existing laws.
Of course there are restrictions, but those are the same for everyone. For instance, you may not marry your own child. You may not marry any child. You must be of adequate age, depending on the state. You may not marry an animal. Or a household appliance. But anyone and everyone is allowed to marry. There is not debate on that. Homosexuals are as free as anyone to marry within the current bounds and definitions of marriage.
So the debate is not on who can marry. It is on the very definition and nature of marriage. If “love” is all that is required, then there are a few other laws that Judge Allen needs to overturn as well—all in the interest of equality, of course.
The ban on bestiality clearly shows “unlawful prejudice,” right? Why shouldn’t the love between an animal and a human be sacredly solemnized by the church and the state? I’m sure Judge Allen is eager to hear a case on that issue. She’s also working furiously on legislation to protect the “love” of pedophiles as well, I’m sure. And let’s not forget incestuous relationships.
Ultimately, her ruling makes all limitations on marriage arbitrary. Why strike down one tenet of the definition of marriage and leave others in tact?
And, just for the record, “all men are created equal” is not in the Constitution. It’s in the Declaration of Independence. But I would never expect a federal judge to know that. That’s asking a bit too much, I guess. Anyway, again, this is a grave and arbitrary misunderstanding. Homosexuals are not unequal in the sight of the law. They have exactly the same right to marry that anyone else has. What they are actually asking for is unequal treatment. It would be more accurate to use the “all men are created equal” line to reject same-sex marriages than to uphold them.
Anyway, this situation is absurd. As soon as the nature and definition of marriage and the family unit becomes arbitrary and the enforcement of states’ rights becomes selective, the fabric of the law becomes tattered to the point of uselessness. God help us.