4 Questions for the Supporters of Same-Sex Marriage

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4 Questions for the Supporters of Same-Sex Marriage

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments for same-sex marriage.

A perusal of the subject materials leading up to this week as well as during and after the SCOTUS proceedings points to the following questions for the supporters of same-sex marriage:

1. The historical definition of marriage—Although widely viewed as the swing vote on the issue, Justice Kennedy raised a profound concern for an institution that has been around not for decades or centuries but for millennia.

Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports that Justice Kennedy was “concerned about changing a conception of marriage that has persisted for thousands of years based on little more than a decade of experience with same-sex marriage in the United States.” Justice Scalia further probed the subject when he asked the representative of gay couples, “Do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same-sex marriage?”

Essentially, as expressed by Chief Justice Roberts, supporters of same-sex marriage are not seeking to join an institution that has lasted millennia, but rather they are trying “to redefine the institution.” Is the history of marriage suddenly irrelevant? Do the nine justices “know better”?

2. The monogamous nature of marriage—A change in the definition of marriage as a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman opens a can of worms. As Justice Alito asked, “Suppose…a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license. Would there be any ground for denying them a license?” Who defines if marriage should be limited to two or more consenting people or groups?

3. The biological nature of marriage—Among other reasons, the institution of marriage exists for procreation, rearing children, and maintaining a biological bond between heterosexual parents and their offspring. The “fundamental right” of children is enhanced through the traditional understanding of marriage.

Writing in USA Today as a child raised by a parent in a same-sex relationship, Katy Faust says, “Redefining marriage redefines parenthood.”

Given its historical brevity, same-sex marriage has yet to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that it can enhance the “fundamental right” of children. As acknowledged by the American Psychological Association (APA), there is a great absence of longitudinal studies following families with gay or lesbian parents. In light of this, one may ask, What about the kids?

4. The courts vs. democratic process—Should the courts or the democratic process be the determinant of same-sex legality? Under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, proponents of same-sex marriage want the Supreme Court to legalize marriage in states where it has been banned.

The court recognized the gravity of any attempt to make such a decision when Justice Breyer said, “You want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to do it to change … what marriage is to include gay people.”

There is fundamental difference that must be highlighted here. States can legalize same-sex marriage with a possibility of exceptions for dissenters. However, if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, it becomes constitutional and the states have to enforce it—and this “puts religious liberty in the crosshairs.” The question—why choose judicial activism over democratic process?

Photo by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Valmy Karemera is associate editor of The Compass Magazine and posts daily news updates on the Compass Twitter page. Originally from Rwanda, he now lives and works in Texas with his family.