This week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow lower court rulings permitting gay marriage in a number of states to stand provides a useful basis from which to contemplate a thesis statement supporting the right of homosexuals to marry. There are generally two approaches to the issue of gay marriage, legal and moral, and both have plenty of partisans and detractors. The Court’s earlier decision (The United States v. Windsor, June 26, 2013) rejecting as unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199), which established in law that “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife,” represented a serious setback for opponents of gay marriage, and this week’s ruling further buttresses the legal arguments by gay marriage proponents or supporters. In short, there is apparently no legal basis upon which to deny homosexuals the right to marry.
With repeated Supreme Court actions now invalidating the letter and spirit of the Defense of Marriage Act, the moral argument remains the sole political basis for opponents of gay marriage to continue their efforts at blocking such marriages. As the moral arguments – in effect, that marriage is a sacred institution that consists solely of heterosexual couples – were reflected in the now-discredited Defense of Marriage Act, a strong thesis statement supporting gay marriage can be constructed incorporating these developments. A possible statement could include something along the following lines:
“The right of homosexual couples to marry is not denied in the U.S. Constitution and represents a basic human right entirely consistent with the freedoms expressed in that all-important document.”
Now, the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” What this means is that, because the Constitution does not address the issue of gay marriage, it is left to the provenance of the individual states to determine legality within their confines. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny to hear the arguments of the States that have sought to prohibit gay marriage, however, seems to invalidate that concept. In effect, the federal government cannot define marriage as between a man and a woman, and states similarly cannot deny same-sex couples the right to marry. This ambiguity, consequently, leaves the door open for future legal battles. A thesis statement supporting the right of same-sex marriages, though, can focus on the spirit and letter of the Constitution with respect to the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights, and to the absence of any legal basis to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court is arguing that neither the United States Government nor the individual States can legislate morality, which is consistent with the intent of the Framers of the Constitution.
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