Our View: Overturning Proposition 8 was the right choice

On Tuesday morning, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that California’s Proposition 8 banning marriage between same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Since 2008, the Proposition has been criticized for being unconstitutional and homophobic, and has incited strong emotional responses from both sides of the issue.

The court’s decision was made on the basis that the proposition served no purpose other than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

According to the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution, it is unconstitutional to create a law specifically to take away the rights of a minority group. Since same-sex couples were allowed to marry for a five-month period, Prop 8 was taking away a right that they already had.

It is exciting to see such a blatantly oppressive law overturned, but unfortunately it looks like this fight is not necessarily over yet. There is a high likelihood that this case will have to go to a higher court. Conservatives and groups such as the ProtectMarriage.com coalition will not let this go down without a fight. Most likely, the case will go to the U.S. Supreme court where a final decision will be made.

For now, we can enjoy the fact that Prop 8 is at least temporarily dead, and that the federal court system is not allowing ridiculous religious arguments to sway their decision. People arguing for the “sanctity” of marriage have no right to argue the legality of the issue because the word “sanctity” itself refers to religion which can not be considered in a legal case. Marriage is a civil contract, and all citizens have the right to be treated equally under the law.

As long as being married offers even one civil liberty that is not obtainable otherwise, it is fundamentally illegal and un-American to restrict any group from marriage. The opposition to same-sex relationships is simply either a cultural or religious aversion, which should never have an effect on an actual law.

It doesn’t matter if there is a majority of voters who are against same-sex marriage. By definition, a minority group will not have the same amount of support as the majority. Civil rights cases have never been decided by a majority rule, only by the Bill of Rights and legal documents that protect the equality of all people.

Hopefully this decision will be used as a precedent in future civil rights cases for same-sex couples in other states. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia are currently the only states/districts that allow legal same-sex marriages. If the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, it may finally give same-sex couples the rights that they deserve, nationwide.

It should not make a difference whether or not gay marriage aligns with your religious views. The most important thing to remember, whether you are for gay marriage or not, is tolerance. If you cannot learn to tolerate those who are different from you, then you are in for a lifetime of discontent.

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