Gay marriage decision may lead to equality in other states

Gay marriage decision may lead to equality in other states

Kevin Griffin

Since a federal judge in Virginia ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional Feb. 13, talk has shifted to what this could mean for other states.

The decision is not yet final, as opponents are calling for an appeal to the U.S. Fourth District Court of Appeals, according to The New York Times. Should the measure be upheld upon appeal, the implications could be felt for a number of other states, including North Carolina, which is part of the Fourth Circuit.

This is an extremely positive development for the cause of freedom and equality in this state and across the country.

We are now living in a time when not only have the faulty, empty arguments against gay marriage been dismissed in the court of public opinion, but in the court of law, as well. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans would support a nationwide gay marriage law, with 43 percent opposing and the rest having no opinion.

Opponents of gay marriage often point to religiously defined family values and to the will of the people who have, in many cases, voted to ban gay marriage. Such a case could be made in North Carolina, where citizens voted 61 percent to 39 percent in 2012 to ban gay marriage via an amendment to the state’s constitution, according to the News & Observer.

Almost two years after the passage of Amendment 1, there is still division in our state. Forty-seven percent oppose gay marriage in North Carolina, while 43 percent support it and the rest are unsure or have no opinion, according to a September 2013 poll by Elon University.

Fortunately, our federal constitution provides for separation of church and state and equal protection under the law in the First, Fifth and Fourteenth amendments, so legal principle has the power to override prejudice. Ensuring that citizens have their rights respected is a legitimate function of government and should trump any vote that seeks to deprive citizens of those rights.

There will naturally be strong opposition in the state regarding some of these developments in gay rights, which can be seen around the country.

Ultimately, the opposition is a good sign. It means that stances against gay marriage are losing.

Those against it are trying to hold this crumbling edifice together, in spite of public and legal opposition.

If things go as those currently involved in the legal process of the Virginia case believe, this case could eventually be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The New York Times. We could see a situation where we have a fairly definitive legal answer to the question of gay marriage.

If that were to happen, it would be a great day for the enhancement of freedom and equality in this country.

 Kevin Griffin, a sophomore journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.