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On Same-Sex Marriage Rights
Over fifty years ago, the US Supreme Court took the first practical step towards ending Racial Segregation with the landmark Brown VS. Board of Education – a move that was cemented with Pres. Johnson's Voting Rights Act in 1965, which would once and for all put a nail in the coffin of the ways of the Old South (that was not without consequence – the Democratic Party would lose support in the area for years to come).
Today, we are faced with yet another controversial Civil Rights issue – same sex-marriage. As of this writing, only a handful of U.S. states (Iowa, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut and Massachusetts) have laws that allow the matrimony of individuals of the same gender. California was once part of that group, but a recent voter-backed initiative put the kibosh on that, to the dismay of pro-gay activists around the country – something that creates jurisprudence for similar bans elsewhere.
One misconception that those who oppose same-sex marriage have is that gay couples might have the right to force their local ministers to officiate at their weddings. That is definitely not true (in spite of what the California ads said). Because of Church-State separation, churches that do not support same-sex unions would be able to continue to do so, in the same way that they condemn reproductive rights. The case here is a simple civil marriage recognized by the state, not a religious ceremony – so the “sanctity” of marriage remains unchanged as far as that goes.
Now, many states have what they call “civil unions,” which gives couples some of the protections that conventional couples take for granted. But that fact is that the status does not always give them the right to claim joint taxes or to enjoy shared health benefits. Worse, in many cases they do not get inheritance rights – meaning that if one party happens to pass away, the other person might be thrown out in the cold by the deceased's family.
Since the majority of US states fiercely opposes same-sex marriage rights, I believe it is due time for the Supreme Court to step in to push towards equal rights - maybe if California activists appeal, there will be an opportunity here. After all, this is a nation whose Declaration of Independence states that all were created equal. The existence of a second class citizenship doesn't make any sense – which is, by the way, the reason why “separate but equal” was an absurdity in the first place.