The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that allowing same-sex marriage was not an Idaho issue nor any other state’s prerogative, but that it is a fundamental right for all protected in the 14th Amendment under equal protection and due process clauses.
This is now the law of the land and should be met with the same respect and adherence as any other law in Idaho or in any other state. There is no reason for Idaho to pursue any appeals or spend another dime defending what the court has judged indefensible. In fact, these resources could be redirected to hold statewide discussions about Adding The Words in Idaho prior to the 2016 legislative session.
We feel it is time for those in this state who object to the ruling to live and let live, and for those who can see their way clear to love and let love. Idaho same-sex couples who are already married, and those who will be, are entitled to every legal benefit and every “for better, for worse, for richer and poorer” attraction the institution affords.
The elephant in the room is that legality codifies a path but cannot promise societal acceptance. The court itself was split on this decision and we must recognize that Idaho and the rest of the country will need time to process what, by the standards of history, has been a whirlwind of social change regarding marriage.
President Barack Obama himself — who was at the forefront of congratulating same-sex couples Friday — had an epiphany about the validity of same-sex marriage only three years ago.
Let’s consider that the five justices in the majority 5-4 vote did in fact redefine marriage for Idaho and any other state that had a constitutional ban. It was their prerogative to interpret the Constitution in our system of checks and balances. Their dissenting and more generally conservative colleagues essentially said this was not about the Constitution, but about legislating from the bench.
Curiously, the swing vote and majority opinion on same-sex marriage was made by a justice with some conservative credentials who was appointed to the high court by conservative icon President Ronald Reagan — Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“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,” Kennedy wrote in his opinion. “... They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
The Constitution also grants the right of those who hold sincerely held religious beliefs to practice their faith without coercion or compromise — especially from their government. As Kennedy said, “the eyes of the law” provide the dignity same-sex couples seek in marriage.
We challenge him and the other high court justices to exercise the same empathy and respect should matters of religious freedom come in conflict with the principles in the 14th Amendment as outlined Friday. We don’t ever want to see someone forced to marry a couple they don’t want to marry when the objections are based on religious beliefs. We hope nobody else does, either.
The Supreme Court justices basically serve until they no longer want to. We suspect there will be no shortage of work in the days to come.
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