Thursday, November 06, 2014

To the Supreme Court we go - Sixth Circuit Appeals Court upholds marriage equality bans in four states

Looks like the issue of marriage equality may have to be finally decided by the Supreme Court thanks to an absolutely ridiculous ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

From Buzzfeed:

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld four states’ bans on same-sex couples’ marriages on Thursday, splitting with the decision of four other appellate courts and likely setting up a Supreme Court showdown on the issue.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the 2-1 majority of the court, wrote the opinion upholding the constitutionality of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee’s bans.

“When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” he wrote. “Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

That statement is just plain ridiculous. What does Sutton think judges are for? If we left it up to him, segregation would have had to have been decided through African-Americans waiting on the benevolence of white voters. It is an absolute shirking of his duty.

According to Talking Points Memo, Sutton also said the following:

"[T]he right to marry in general, and the right to gay marriage in particular, nowhere appear in the Constitution. That route for recognizing a fundamental right to same-sex marriage does not exist." 

Sutton sounds like one of those types who believes that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was when it was written and not taking into account that it has to be a "living document" such a belief is impossible in terms of the multitude of changes taking place in American culture over rhe years.

The one judge who voted against upholding the bans, Martha Craig Daughtrey, called out her colleagues in what The Huffington Post called a "blistering dissent:"

The majority opinion "treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions," Daughtrey wrote.

"Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win 'the hearts and minds' of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause," she wrote.

"But these plaintiffs are not political zealots trying to push reform on their fellow citizens; they are committed same-sex couples, many of them heading up de facto families, who want to achieve equal status ... with their married neighbors, friends, and coworkers, to be accepted as contributing members of their social and religious communities, and to be welcomed as fully legitimate parents at their children’s schools," she continued. "They seek to do this by virtue of exercising a civil right that most of us take for granted -- the right to marry."

Citing the Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Daughtrey said that the majority of the federal appeals court ignored the damage to the children of same-sex couples whose unions were not recognized.

People familiar with the Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case, Daughtrey wrote, "must have said to themselves at various points in the majority opinion, 'But what about the children?' I did, and I could not find the answer in the opinion."

She added that it was "ironic that irresponsible, unmarried, opposite-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit who produce unwanted offspring must be 'channeled' into marriage and thus rewarded with its many psychological and financial benefits, while same-sex couples who become model parents are punished for their responsible behavior by being denied the right to marry."

In concluding her dissent, Daughtrey cited the oath of office she took more than 20 years ago when she was sworn into office. She said her colleagues "seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary." She wrote that the judiciary existed to "ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims."

"If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams," she wrote.

To the tell the truth, this piecemeal approach was annoying. Hopefully the Supreme Court will deal with this soon.


Erica Cook said...

"life liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Tell me how marriage isn't a part of the pursuit of happiness.

Erica Cook said...

Also, the first amendment says we have the right to practice our religion without hindrance from the law. Well, my religion has recognized same sex marriage from the get-go, the Quakers have since I believe the 1800s. Our legally recognized religions are not permitted to have all marriages by legally consenting adults be recognized, which are both critical parts of our religion. That is clearly stated in the constitution.