Quin Hillyer’s notion of how our Constitution works is quaint, and by “quaint,” I mean pre-Civil War.
Hillyer’s claim that the U.S. Constitution wasn’t designed to do this or wasn’t intended to do that is nonsense. Over the last 235 years or so, our courts have used the yardstick provided by the Constitution to mete out justice under all sorts of circumstances. In particular, the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment ensure that all citizens are, in simple terms, treated with fundamental fairness.
The notion that the states may do as they please under some guise of individual sovereignty died at Appomattox Courthouse. At least, it died everywhere but in the Deep South. Under Hillyer’s concept of constitutional law, Louisiana could do away with the right to vote, the right to a fair trial or to a trial by a jury of your peers, the presumption of innocence in criminal trials, the right to travel freely and the right to marry at all to name but a few. None of those rights are mentioned in the Constitution, but they have all been engraved into our society by judicial rulings.
The arguments made today against same-sex marriage are from the same, tone-deaf family as the arguments made 50 years ago against interracial marriage. Hillyer’s column apparently was inspired by the recent federal court ruling in which Judge Martin Feldman said Louisiana has the right to ban same-sex marriages because “Louisiana has a legitimate interest in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents.” This is the very first time that any federal court anywhere has ruled against same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
Feldman’s views on marriage as the vessel through which we procreate have elicited responses from other judges and legal experts that range from plain rejection to outright ridicule. The simple fact that we allow sterile individuals and folks who admit that they have no desire to have children to marry negates any interest that Louisiana might have in this regard.
If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, you may be right, but that by itself is not sufficient grounds to make it illegal. The list of the everyday activities that many folks think are sins would be too long for this limited space, but they range from drinking alcohol to gambling to such mundane things as dancing — none of which are illegal.
Like it or not — marriage equality is on its way. It’s just a matter of simple social justice.