Compassion and legality

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week on two separate cases involving gay marriage.

The first is a challenge to California’s Proposition 8 that outlawed such unions there. The second involves the federal Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

On strictly legal terms, the court should hold that denying the right to marry to gays and lesbians is a violation of their civil rights and, therefore, unconstitutional.

As long as the act of being married conveys certain privileges to citizens (joint tax returns, survivors’ benefits, etc., etc.), denying that right to gays and lesbians treats them as a separate, unequal and inferior class.

That should be the basis for the court’s ruling.

The decision by legislatures (including our own this year) to not be proactive and legalize such marriages is harder to understand. Society contends it wants to strengthen families, but apparently many mean only families headed by heterosexual adults. We’d maintain that good families are created when there are two committed, loving adults. No further definition needed.

In conclusion, the court rulings should strictly be on legal grounds – you can’t deny a sector of the citizenry their civil rights. If the court rulings are ambiguous, then our Legislature needs to step in and do the job based on legal AND compassionate grounds.

We need to promote and support loving families wherever we find them. A strong society should reward and promote commitment.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.