VA Pilot and Times-Dispatch Celebrate Striking of Same-sex Marriage Ban on Editorial Pages
The changing views of same-sex marriage in Virginia can be reflected on facebook posts and at dinner tables around our great state, but when regional news papers step in and provide supportive OpEds from their editorial teams, that says something.
With the win for marriage equality earlier this week at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, it’s only a matter of time before the gay-marriage dominos fall in our favor – and it seems Hampton Road’s VA Pilot agrees:
The 2-1 ruling announced on Monday, affirming U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s decision on Valentine’s Day, echoes many of the same findings of other cases involving challenges to state laws banning same-sex couples from marrying. It draws on the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, which overturned a state prohibition on interracial marriage by explaining “[t]he freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
Virginians’ approval of a constitutional amendment in 2006 to ban gay marriage and refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states doesn’t override the fundamental principles articulated in the Loving ruling. And the U.S. Constitution does not permit the will of a majority to deprive a minority of a state’s population of inherent rights.
“The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life,” the court ruled. “Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”
Over at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which still sees the occasional accusatory social media post about their push for the right, they too saw Monday’s decision as a win for the Commonwealth.
Opponents of gay marriage also advance several other reasons for banning it, from concerns about procreation to a reverence for tradition. The arguments fail on their own merits – or, rather, their lack of merit. But even if they did not, they cannot trump the Constitution. (As a Cato Institute amicus brief argued, if tradition could supersede the Constitution the U.S. would still have segregated schools.) The 14th Amendment insists that government shall not deny “to any person” the “equal protection of the laws.” Yesterday’s ruling is a splendid triumph for that essential principle.
There’s still a long battle ahead for marriage equality here in Virginia – not to mention a mess of other rights and protections sexual minorities will have to fight for AFTER their marriages are recognized.
But perhaps, the next time we fight for our chance to not be fired for who we love, try to adopt a baby, or even make sure we can’t be kicked out of our rented homes, the bigger voices in Virginia publishing will stand up with us.
All anybody wants is a nice safe place to pee, no matter what gender they identify with.April 25, 2016
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