May 20, 2014

Gay Marriage: And Another One Gone, And Another One Gone

the state of gay marriage reflected in the map of the united states may 2014

Another One Bites The Dust

It’s been incredibly hard to keep up with all of the news stories over the past week, related to marriage equality rulings, in the various state and federal courts.

Regardless, the news has been great! And from where I sit, it looks like the United States is marching firmly toward marriage equality in all fifty states.

Over the last two weeks, gay marriage bans have been dropping like flies. And another one gone (Arkansas), and another one gone (Idaho), another one bites the dust (Oregon).

In Eugene, Oregon today, US District Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. With this ruling, it’s the 13th win in a row for the marriage equality movement, since the US Supreme Court invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last summer.

On May 13, 2014 U.S. Magistrate Candy W. Dale ruled that Idaho's 2006 gay marriage ban, which amended the state constitution to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, violated the U.S. Constitution.

Less than a week before, on May 9th, 2014, Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas laws banning same-sex couples from marrying, violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

As the gay marriage movement moves forward, it’s hard not to be incredibly excited by these recent events. I was particularly moved by what Judge McShane expressed in his ruling. Writing for the Portland Mercury, Denis C. Theriault characterized Judge McShane’s ruling as “gut-punching” because of the personal nature of the judge’s opinion.


It is not surprising then that many of us raised with such a world view would wish to protect our beliefs and our families by turning to the ballot box to enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value. But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them.
It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading “God Hates Fags” make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.

My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community.

Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other … and rise.

Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other … and rise.

Let us look to each other and rise. Amen.


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