Is Gay Marriage Unconstitutional?

Gay marriage is a contentious issue in the US today. Currently, only fifteen states have legalized gay marriage, and even then it has been a long and tough fight to get to this point. In California, Proposition 8 won by a majority in 2008 when same sex marriage proponents sought to prevent gay couples from accessing marriage licences. On June 2013, gay couples in California could once again acquire marriage licences after Proposition 8 was deemed unconstitutional (Mears para. 2). This trend has been observed in most of the fifteen states where the constitutional provisions of equality and civil rights have been used to defend gay marriage. The principles that guide the legalization of gay marriage are ingrained in the very heart of the Constitution.

The right to marriage is provided for by the US Constitution. This implies that once opposite sex couples are allowed to marry, the same right should extend to gay couples who are also protected by the clause. In reference to Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health, the court declared that disallowing same sex marriage violated Massachusetts’ Constitution. It interfered with the couples’ freedoms and in fact discriminated against them. This also meant that gay couples were not allowed similar benefits and securities as opposite sex couples. As Gerstmann (85) highlights, opponents of gay marriage enthuse that the right to marry does not apply to gay marriage because this union does not enable procreation. However, this is not the only reason two people seek to unite in marriage and presuming so disregards the Constitution’s obligation to provide liberty and equality for all.

Banning gay marriage as observed in most states only fosters inequality, discrimination and disrespect towards gay couples. These couples are stigmatized and made to feel undeserving and inferior as opposed to opposite sex couples who do not have to resort to court cases to fight for their rights. In fact, the Supreme Court acknowledged this when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was declared invalid, as it infringes on the protections of the Fifth Amendment (Reilly and Siddiqui para. 2). Gay couples who are legally recognized in their individual states can indeed receive federal benefits made available to those in heterosexual marriages. This ruling further cements the fact that respect and dignity of every person must be protected.

Allowing gay marriage would serve to honor the Constitution. Evidently, gay marriage is constitutional, but the prohibition of gay marriage is not. The future of this debate will not be any different from what it is today. The institution of marriage will remain a part of the society and individuals bent on dismissing gay marriage on the grounds of morality and religion will still be there. Nonetheless, the Constitution will remain a guideline that inherently insists on equal treatment for all individuals especially in a democratic society.

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