It has been a fascinating time watching the most recent march of civil rights in the United States, even if it has been mostly judicial.
On Monday, the state of Virginia had its same-sex marriage ban declared unconstitutional by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
In a 2-1 opinion in Virginia, the judges said the state’s laws banning or recognizing gay marriage violate the American Constitution. In 2006, state voters by a 57 per cent to 43 per cent margin supported an amendment to their constitution specifically banning the practice or even recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere.
Judge Henry F. Floyd said in his ruling that the state’s bans “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry.”
With the ruling, 19 states and the District of Columbia now allow gay marriages, leaving 31 that don’t. That may also change, with more than 70 working their way through the judicial systems. In the next few weeks, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illimois and California all have cases before the courts.
While Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has stopped defending the ban -- something he was joined in by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper -- others such as South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is continuing the battle.
In other states, such as Colorado, Wisconsin and Montana, the attorneys general have been actively fighting for the ban.
It’s not a complete surprise because socially conservative voters remain staunchly opposed to the practice.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) told the Faith and Liberty Talk Show last week exactly why this was a terrible mistake.
“I believe that we’re going to see coming an effort for multiples in marriage. Not just two, but multiples in marriage,” Bachmann said. “I think they want to legalize that. I think also they want to abolish age-of-consent laws, which means ... we would do away with statutory-rape laws so that adults would be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.”
To use a terrific expression, when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Bachmann’s hammer is a combination of ignorance and preconceived notions sprinkled with a liberal helping of what might charitably be called a lack of sophisticated thought.
But she’s not alone in harbouring this thought. Whether it’s based on religious beliefs -- which we can at least grudgingly accept -- or just plain ignorance, it’s wrong.
There are no widely accepted studies that prove that gay folks are any more prone to child abuse than straight people but it’s invariably one of the first arguments trotted out, quickly followed by polygamy and people marrying animals.
It’s mostly just sad.
The march of human rights will go on, regardless of who among us may try to stop them. Gay couples will marry, adopt children and live the same lives as straight couples. Some will divorce, some will live exemplary lives.
That’s kind of the point. They’re just people too.
Prince Albert Daily Herald