News broke this morning that the Supreme Court has ruled that same –sex marriages now must be legally recognized in all 50 states. This is a great stride in the for the LGBT community and equal rights supporters throughout America. Still, so many are not celebrating this decisions. The ruling was passed down with a narrow 5-4 majority, which is, in many ways emblematic of the nation’s polarity on this issue. Like so many others this is a multi-layered conversation.
Some are upset because they feel the Supreme Court has over stepped their bounds by forcing all states to acknowledge these marriages, stripping some states rights. It is a point many have used to oppose the simple fact that the Supreme Court should even hear this case. But this is not the first time the Supreme Court was asked to weigh in on marriage rights. We’ve seen a similar decision to uphold interracial marriage rights in 1967 (Loving v Virgnia). This is a similar decision and no less controversial so there is in deed a precedent.
Religious institutions in many states are in an uproar because they feel the ruling impugns on religious freedom. This is an interesting notion because marriage is not only a religious construct, but a legal construct as well. This law only applies to the legal implications of marriage. Since there are many Americans that do not have a practicing religion their marriage is already not recognized by an institutional body of faith. The ruling grant legal marriage acceptance in all 50 states but has no mention of attempting to regulate what religious bodies must do.
This means that you can get married in a courthouse and the government will recognize your union. But it does not mean that you can get married in any church, temple, or synagogue and that your faith will recognize the union. Each body of faith and place of worship will have to decide these matters on their own.
Marriage is a construct that runs as a deep emotional issue for many people, this is one decision that shows our humanity for better or worse. We often find it difficult to separate logic from our emotion but it is important that we take an appraisal of where our feelings and thoughts are coming from. Whether you are for or against the religious implications of this ruling it should be clear now that the courts have taken a position to uphold equal individual rights without regard to the gender of the two people being married. Still this legal marriage remains between two people and does not acknowledge polygamous marriages under the law.
We are now forced to reexamine the parallels in the fight for equal rights. A Supreme Court ruling may grant protections and uphold rights from a legal perspective but it will not end bigotry or prejudice. For as long as we have seen LGBT activists fight these battles the struggle is not over. Today is a great day for legal rights but we must continue to think about how we treat people, our use of language, and our own personal biases.
In many states there is still a struggle for family acceptance, fight against bigotry and misunderstanding. Today’s victory should underscore the validity of these relationships and reinforce the message of tolerance.
It is a conflict that has been resolved today in the courts of American but it remains a point of contention in our country’s hearts.