An Open Letter to the United States Supreme Court
Ladies and Gentlemen,
By now you’ve all probably heard (I imagine you keep track of this sort of thing) that a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that California’s ban on same-sex marriage, established by the passage in 2008 of ballot initiative Proposition 8, is unconstitutional.
While I, as a supporter of gay equality, would be perfectly happy to accept this single victory and move on to the next fight (Arizona, maybe?), this case already seems destined to land at your feet. An appeal seems inevitable. Already those on the hysterical fringe of American conservatism have struck up the band and begun to sing their favorite songs about activist judges, the homosexual agenda, and the calculated destruction of the traditional family. I’m writing this today to issue my own appeal:
When this case is brought to you, accept it. Hear it. And use it to strike a blow for freedom and human rights that will echo across this continent and all around the world.
No, this isn’t a legal appeal. I’m not a lawyer. I write a shitty, often sophomoric blog that not many people read. But I’m an American. I’m an American who wants to see his fellow Americans treated with the same dignity and respect under the law with which he has been treated. The girl I love and I are planning to marry this October. There is no justification for same-sex couples — just as committed to one another, just as in love as we are — to be denied that same opportunity.
The supporters of Prop. 8 who will challenge this ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker will tell you that the courts have exceeded their authority by overturning a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution. They will tell you that Judge Walker has thwarted the will of the people of California. But I believe that our United States Constitution, the one which empowers the court on which Judge Walker sits, was written to guarantee our freedom, not unjustly curtail it.
In the decision of Loving vs. Virginia, the case which overruled laws banning interracial marriages, Chief Justice Earl Warren, joined unanimously by his fellow justices, wrote:
The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
There are those who would argue that racial classification and sexual orientation are not analogous, that the interracial marriages legalized in Loving were still opposite-sex unions, regardless of the skin-color of those involved, that it is this so-called “traditional marriage” that is threatened by the overturning of Prop. 8 and which must be protected. But pay attention to the arguments made by those who oppose same-sex marriage today — that same-sex marriage is unnatural; that gay Americans are perfectly free to marry, so long as they marry a member of the opposite sex; that allowing gay couples to marry would open the floodgates to the legalization of all kinds of perversion. Are these not the same arguments used by the opponents of interracial marriage forty years ago, only replacing race with sexuality?
Our gay fellow Americans have been denied their rights, have had their dignity insulted for far too long. Very soon you nine men and women will have the power to right that wrong, just as your predecessors did away with slavery, segregation, and anti-miscegenation laws. There is no justification — legally, morally — for allowing this ugly and inhumane sexual discrimination to continue. You must not allow bigotry to remain enshrined within the laws of our states, or our federal government.
As a citizen, as a human being, I ask you: When the time comes, do what is right. Set your personal feelings and biases aside, and uphold the Walker decision. You have a rare opportunity here to make your country into a better place, not just for our gay fellow Americans, but for all of us. Please don’t pass it up.