The Supreme Court began hearing arguments April 28 regarding the rights of same-sex couples. Despite several hours of arguments, the result is anyone’s guess.
The questions before the Court are: Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?
Utah Senator Jim Dabakis, an openly gay man, feels strongly that states’ bans on gay marriage do violate the 14th Amendment.
“As a gay man who loves someone, I should have the same equal protection toward legal marriage as a non-gay couple, that just seems very basic to our system of justice,” Dabakis said. “People have a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry and get all the protections of law that are available.”
In 2004 Utah passed a law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman known as Amendment 3. It was later revoked in 2013. Now, Utah is one of 14 states urging the Supreme Court to give individual states the right to decide whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage.
“The purpose of the Constitution is to protect people’s fundamental, basic rights. The views of the state are not important. It is a fundamental, constitutional right that people have,” Dabakis said.
Bill Duncan, director of law at the Sutherland Institute, said there is a wider impact with this interpretation of the Constitution.
“If we believe that the Constitution requires same-sex marriage, we are suggesting that people who disagree, for religious purposes, with that definition of marriage are bigots, because they do not accept something that the court calls a civil right,” Duncan said.
The arguments made in front of the Supreme Court went in two directions, one focusing on the lawful and political side of the decision and the other based on the emotional and social aspects.
Alan Hawkins, a family life professor at BYU, explained why he believes that, no matter the ruling, the actions of court will provide fundamental changes to marriage in the U.S.
“There is an important social decision about whether it is important to keep marriage defined as a union of a man and a woman, and gender being fundamental to the meaning and purpose of marriage, whether we as a society believe that marriage has elastic meaning to it and expanding the boundaries of marriage to be able to include those who love somebody of the same gender,“ Hawkins said.
The final Supreme Court ruling is expected sometime this June.