By Jen SifferlenEDITORIAL EDITOR
The United States has nearly reached the halfway mark in the fight for same-sex marriage. Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin have joined the ranks of states that allow gay coupes to marry, bringing the total number to 24. The change follows a Supreme Court decision to deny cert – to refuse to hear five cases appealing pro-gay marriage decisions in federal appeals courts in those states.
Soon, six more states will join the ranks. Colorado, North Carolina, Kansas, West Virginia and Wyoming all fall under the jurisdiction of the five appeals courts, and consequently will be forced to comply, according to Reuters.
As these 11 states sign on to legalize marriage equality, Americans of all sexual orientations celebrate the Supreme Court decision that brings the country to another human rights milestone. Gains in marriage equality are certainly something to celebrate, but the Court should not have dismissed the cases.
By dismissing the cases, the Supreme Court extended gay marriage to 11 more states. But if it heard them, the Court could have legalized gay marriage on a national level.
Each of the three branches of American government must check the power of the others. The Supreme Court, head of the Judicial branch, is responsible for ensuring the constitutionality of the laws made and enforced by the Legislative and Executive branches.
The Court should decide, finally, to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Not only does the inequality of marriage rights violate the intrinsic American idea that all men are created equal, and therefore deserve equal rights, but also, it is decidedly unconstitutional.
The decision to ban gay marriage, often founded upon the religious belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, violates the establishment clause. The clause, a pronouncement of the First Amendment, asserts that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” but a ban on gay marriage does just that.
Along with the duty to ensure the constitutionality of this nation’s laws, the Supreme Court was designed to keep an eye out for the little guy. The Court is responsible for “ensuring that popular majorities cannot pass laws that harm and/or take undue advantage of unpopular minorities,” according to uscourts.gov.
The decision to deny cert to these five cases against gay marriage reflects the growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community across the country. As this acceptance grows, younger and more tolerant voters will likely eclipse a more prejudiced generation, leading to the final 20 states reversing their policies. Until then, those states highlight the Court’s neglect to protect the gay community from the popular majority.
These gay marriage victories are something to celebrate, and may lead to more as time progresses, but the Supreme Court should have seized the chance to legalize marriage equality now, on a national level.
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