In May of 2010, the Courts once again angered Californian voters; this time, the Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker went so far as to strike down Proposition 8, i.e. the Constitutional Amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Whether or not Americans accept homosexual behavior as proper does not necessary give voters the right to encroach upon the personal freedoms of individuals, even with a Constitutional Amendment. It was, therefore, the responsibility of the Courts to decide if the State Constitutional ban on gay marriage violated already existing rights. Although I feel much of the judge’s views and assertions will be filtered out should the case go to the US Supreme Court, the recent decision is probably correct in that such a ban does violate the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment while I believe Constitutional Amendments should be used to expand the freedoms of individuals, never to undermine them.
That said, the decision has failed to protect the First Amendment rights of those who view marriage as a religious institution between a man and woman, though it may not have been possible to do this under this particular case. To balance the rights of both sides the only recourse is to correct a long standing overreach of government. That is, government has no right to dictate the terms of marriage. Yes, it can recognize civil unions and bless them with certain benefits, like tax breaks, but marriage as a religious institute cannot be undermined by the Courts or legislators. In other words, the only solution to this contentious debate is for our government to start issuing civil unions while leaving the certification of marriage to the Churches.
Should the Supreme Court eventually decide there is a fundamental right to marriage for homosexual couples, there is a lot of baggage that the Courts, as well as our legislators, will have to address. Unlike the civil liberty disparities faced by minorities and women, discrimination against homosexual revolves around a group, which is defined by its behavior, not its innate characteristics. In other words, blacks and women faced discrimination no matter where they went or what they did; whereas, homosexual face discrimination due to their behavior and the lifestyle they choose, just as anyone who chooses a controversial lifestyle would face.
Certainly, this does not mean homosexual should be targeted for discrimination, lack rights, or be attacked. On the other hand, it does make it far more difficult to legally demonstrate homosexual behaviors cannot be frowned upon by the political majority and the bulk of our society. Everyday, American Law encourages and discourages specific behaviors of individuals for the perceived benefit of our society. For personal behaviors like drug abuse, the benefit is clear; however, all societies have moral, not necessarily religious, characteristics that our legal system is historically bound to respect.
We might consider Middle Eastern nations inundated by Islamic extremists that once strived to be secular states by margining the demands of individuals seeking lifestyles in accordance to their beliefs; the leaders and laws of these nations failed to respond to the views of their Peoples. Furthermore, we might also look at our bans on bigamy and prostitution as prime examples of our moral character that our Law does respect. If we consider all sorts of deprived sexual behavior alone, a sweeping decision against California’s Constitutional Amendment could do significant damage to our society as it would significantly diminish what types of behaviors government is allowed to influence. As such, the rights of marriage should not be decided by our legislators or the Courts.
Moreover, both sides are abusing our political and Court systems to settle a social issue that these institutes have no business deciding. The Courts cannot force gay marriage onto the America people nor can they grant homosexual couples the same prestige that heterosexuals enjoy when they start families. At the same time, legislators cannot use the Law to target homosexual relationships in an effort to undermine homosexual behavior while respecting the US Constitution, specifically the Fourteenth Amendment, as doing so undermines our most crucial Constitutional rights.