Obergefell v. Hodges (Marriage Equality)

In conjunction with our friends at the American Humanist Association, we argued in that the Supreme Court must recognize a national right to marriage for all, regardless of whether a couple is made up of a woman and a man, or two people of the same gender. CFI argues that the right to marriage is a fundamental one, as held by the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia, which ruled bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional. LGBT individuals should also be treated as a suspect class, and laws discriminating against them, like laws discriminating based on race or religion, should require justification under strict scrutiny. No argument for the bans on marriage equality meets this burden, and, even if the Supreme Court refuses to apply heightened scrutiny, none of the arguments for “traditional marriage” even reach the level of providing a rational basis for such laws.

In the final analysis, all the arguments put forward by states to exclude LGBT individuals from the benefits of marriage come back to one thing – religious tradition. Religious tradition cannot be the basis for laws excluding people from state benefits without violating the Establishment Clause. By upholding these states’ bans on marriage equality, the Court would be backing up a single, religious belief structure with the power of the law. Religious groups have no monopoly on defining marriage, or other legal relationships. Indeed, throughout American history, religious belief has been used to justify a series of wrongs which the courts then reversed – from slavery, to interracial marriage bans, to segregation, to permitting marital rape. Religious tradition was not been seen as a sufficient reason for discrimination in those areas, and nor should it be permitted to serve to exclude LGBT individuals from the benefits of marriage.

 

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