Marriage is not a fundamental right. For anyone.
Marriage is a human construct, some say inspired by God, that has historically existed to ironically limit the rights of one or both parties. Today, arranged marriages are still arranged and women in their pre-teen years are sworn to men without any say in the issue. In other contexts, marriage is a mutual agreement based on love and respect that will last a lifetime. This idea of a marriage based in love is a rather new and welcome concept on the journey of humankind.
Regardless, no one has a fundamental right to the institution of marriage because it is an agreement of more than one party.
Rights exist because we exist, because people are born and have a fundamental right to their own lives. To use their efforts, mind and body to create happiness for themselves on this Earth. Anything less subjugates humanity to a state of slavery and extinction of either the mind or body. This contrary position would doom us all (and has come close to doing so).
Subsequent conditions, whether marriage, employment or the ownership of property, require the actions of another and no one has a right to compel another to act. This is the concept that separates a right from a so-called privilege. Marriage is a condition that people can engage in but does not exist as a precondition for existence and requires no state sanction for its execution. Semantic arguments notwithstanding, and again stated, one can never hold a right to another’s person, mind or body. For if I have a right to marriage, as I have a right to breath, then who do I have I right to be married to? Can I take a person for my marriage and forbid any divorce? After all, it is my right. But this ludicrous position would then violate the right to life that is held by another, the basis for all free human existence.
In order to be married I need a consenting partner and a consenting PRIVATE institution that will perform the ceremony. In my personal view, this is enough, regardless of gender. The issue that has been present in the United States is one of equality which has led to the demand for rights, and this is a fault of the over-bearing government entity of which I so often protest. And ultimately, the fault lies with us.
The arguments of late in favor of same-sex marriage essentially state that because heterosexual couples can be married, so can homosexual couples, and it is only because the state has an involvement in marriage that this argument can be made. The same-sex marriage advocates are tragically asking for permission of the government to live their lives because the government has been allowed to dictate such terms to the people. In this sense, the people are now beholden to the sovereign for the status of their very lives. Not to protect those lives mind you, but to live them freely. Heterosexual couples have been subjecting themselves to these conditions since before the republic.
The error made in the recent ruling was not a moral one based in gender but in the morality concerning the role of government in our lives. These justices possess such authority that they can determine the status of this precious relationship that exists between two people. And they do so on a whim because no law exists concerning this “right.” Marriage does not appear in the Constitution.
The invocation of the 14th amendment serves to add oil to the water and further obscure the issue. This is the amendment requiring equal protection under the law and was used to justify the ruling, essentially stating that people all deserve the same right to marriage as one another. The application of this reasoning states that what was illegal yesterday is legal today under the same set of laws that existed yesterday. Today we (the Court) now view those laws in a different context and have the power to impose our will. Here is the ruling opinion from Justice Kennedy:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. THE CONSTITUTION GRANTS THEM THAT RIGHT.” (emphasis added)
This, while nicely stated, subtly reflects the grim reality in which we live for there is no possible way to know what the law truly holds. Yesterday this was illegal and today, with a reinvention, and not the passage of an actual law, the Court can say “oh wait, you CAN do that. We’ve had it wrong this whole time. Let us GIVE you your right back” And therein lies the rub. The Court no longer interprets but changes the law to fit a personal belief and that is not in its job description. All current circumstances considered, the issue would have been better left to the states because states can pass amendments that determine the behavior of its residents and those residents have a direct say in the creation of the law (except in California where people voted against Proposition 8 and the courts just overruled them). A free people cannot be free without the stability of law. But the unity of people requires no law at all, only the consent of those involved in the union.
Marriage is a beautiful, hopefully joyous institution that today joins people in love. It is not a gift from government and it is not a right held by anyone over anyone else. It is an agreement that ought to be independent of the state. Marriage has had a specific definition in society but those definitions on permissible behavior do change and that is a fact that opponents of same-sex marriage will have to accept. However, private citizens living private lives can change them in the realm of private society and do not require governmental action. Laws are meant to exist to protect our very lives and to limit such action, not to guide personal relationships. Laws that do so are a direct infringement on the fundamental right to life that we all do hold. This action by the court should serve as a warning: We can tell you what is right for you in your personal life. We can grant such rights, and we can take them away.
It has been said that the law is what the Supreme Court says it is. I suppose we should all thank the Court for the permission to live our lives.
Thank you sirs and madams, may we have another?