Ted Olson, the attorney who successfully argued in front of U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker to overturn Proposition 8, makes a compelling case for the right of GLBT adults to marry across the country. He dismantled Fox News anchor Chris Wallace’s argument that Walker’s decision was based in judicial activism, something Wallace repeatedly tried to use to make Olson appear as if he’s switched sides on the issue.
(As an aside, I love when conservatives coin the phrase judicial activism when a judge’s ruling doesn’t line up with their philosophies. Why is it only judicial activism when the courts strike down your philosophy?)
Olson makes a great point that states rights/let-the-voters-decide advocates have overlooked on social issues: that states and voters do NOT have the right to enact laws that violate the Constitution.
The idea of “letting the voters decide” has become a rallying cry among politicians and activists who are looking to skirt the law by pushing their agenda down the throats of voters one state at a time. It’s a way for politicians to avoid making their positions known on controversial issues and it’s a way of deflecting responsibility from the federal government to protect the rights of its citizens. Prop 8 proponents like to hide behind its Nov. 2008 approval, noting that the will of the people must remain in place. Olson, a former solicitor general and skilled prosecutor, effectively shot down the will of the people argument. In the video, Olson repeats that the Supreme Court has routinely said marriage is a fundamental right ALL Americans are entitled to. The 19th and 20th century bans on interracial marriage, Olson pointed out, were deemed unconstitutional because states created second-class citizens based on their laws that overtly discriminate against a segment of their population. These laws, he said, were in direct contrast to the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment.
Proponents have also claimed that allowing same-sex couples to wed would “redefine” marriage. My response to this incredulous claim is this: what makes your marriage acceptable and a GLBT marriage unacceptable? Please, don’t give me the “natural vs. unnatrual” argument or the marriage has been this way for thousands of years argument. We’ve had slavery for thousands of years, we had Jim Crow laws implemented for more than 100 years and we lived by the separate but equal philosophy for nearly a century. That doesn’t make those practices “natural” and acceptable. Allowing same-sex couples to wed won’t redefine marriage; it’ll expand this basic right to others in our society. Just like the right to vote was expanded to black men and women in the 19th and 20th centuries. That expansion didn’t redefine voting to mean something different; it expanded to those who were disenfranchised.
Anti-gay marriage folks also like to use children (and religion, which I will NOT discuss) as their reason for supporting “traditional” marriage. Traditional marriages, these people say, are more stable and won’t confuse the child. Gay marriages will only make children confused about their own sexuality and may likely grow up to be gay. I won’t even dignify that baseless argument with a response.
These anti-gay marriage folks also claim that allowing same-sex marriage would open the flood gates for people to marry their dogs,children, cars or home. These people not only are dehumanizing to the GLBT community, but they are conveying the notion that same-sex weddings are unnatural and are on the same level as bestiality or pedophilia. This is not only insulting to any intelligent person, but it’s just downright untrue.
Allowing same sex couples to wed won’t be an abomination to your God or won’t bring the world to a halt. They won’t threaten the nature or the sanctity of your marriage (if there is such a thing). They won’t make children grow up to be gay or confused about their sexuality. They won’t make your property values decline or bring crime and blight to your neighborhood. They won’t introduce pedophilia into the neighborhood or give way for people to marry their animals or possessions. They won’t even be a burden on taxpayers.
Allowing the GLBT community to marry will legalize their union in the eyes of the local, state and federal government. Marriage gives these people the right to so many things we straight folks come to take for granted. Can you imagine not being able to see your partner of 20 years while they are in the hospital because you aren’t a legal relative? Can you imagine not being able entitled to the same benefits that your straight counterparts are because you love someone who is of the same gender?
My heterosexual marriage will not be affected by my neighbors who weds, moves in and raises their children next door to me. My “traditional” marriage will see no side effects if several of my gay and lesbian friends are allowed to marry their spouses. Marriage as we’ve come to know it will remain intact and will continue to remain a rite of passage for couples who want to spend their lives together.