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Every "I Do" Declared Equal in the United States

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The United States is in current of progress. Symbols of oppression are being seen in an unwelcome light. Health care in the form of the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, as many people don’t seem to realize they are the same thing), for as many bullets being fired at it, has been upheld. The Pope has declared climate change real. I imagine that is a lot for some people to swallow. Today something different occurred. As President Barack Obama referred to the notion that “all men are created equal” in his speech regarding today’s Supreme Court decision I couldn’t help but think how long our country has taken to live those words.

I am a straight guy. On word of the news this morning I felt that this decision wouldn’t affect me directly. I am certainly not against the court’s ruling, but, as stated before, I’m a white guy. The idea of co-opting other people’s struggles have always seemed a shallow trick for praise I hadn’t put any effort in to earn. That is selfish thinking. Luckily, most of us are multifaceted individuals. The side of me who views civic pride as something tied to collective happiness this day is historic for me and any citizen of The United States of America. This decision will affect us all in fundamentally great ways. Now, in my country, people can seek happiness in ways they couldn’t before. Families can be created that couldn’t be before. Whatever social shame history has attempted to force some to carry can be put down and never picked up again. No matter who you are. If you can’t empathize with that, well, you keep a sad version of humanity.

In the majority opinion Justice Kennedy wrote, “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” Justice Roberts claimed this issue had nothing to do with the Consitution:

“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal,” he wrote. “Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Many lawyers spoke up and claimed they are legislating from the bench. 13 states had laws banning gay marriage before today. Those states were legislating people’s lives. These weren’t law dictating public safety. There were states holding up laws that were based on ignorance and stubbornness about how people find their place in the world. The fact you could be arrested for who you love is vulgar.

There will still be people who don’t like this decision. People who believe the happiness others find in their new freedoms will take away from theirs as though happiness were a finite resource. No matter how many flags are lowered or laws changed, these people will keep their ideas. They are free to. That’s the beauty and tragedy of it.

It’s a great day that will spark debate and some vitriol, but I suspect the majority will just go forward and live better lives knowing they have the privilege they were denied for so long along with the ones they love and respect. It’s a proud day.

Here is the decision in its entirety.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. – Justice Kennedy

Update:

Here is what Utah Governor, Gary Herbert had to say about this decision:

Marriage, as defined by the people of Utah, has been redefined, first by the federal courts and today the outcome of…

Posted by Gary R. Herbert on Friday, June 26, 2015


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