A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit of Appeals voted two to one in favor of allowing a same-sex marriage ban to remain in place in Michigan. This comes hot on the heels of the state’s first round of same-sex marriages performed over the weekend, which will now not be recognized by state officials. A lesbian couple who are the plaintiffs in the case, had petitioned the court to remove the ban while the appeal process was being completed, but the request it seems has been denied.
The couple’s attorneys stated that there are times when it is appropriate to maintain the status quo, and there are times when doing so is simply discrimination with a kinder label. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette does not believe what is being done is discriminatory, citing other gay marriage cases where the U.S. Supreme Court issued stays during appeals.
The day after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman overturned Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and said it could no longer remain in place, counties all across the states began to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. According to court filing documents, a total of 323 marriage licenses were issued on Saturday. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder stated that the state would not recognize these licenses as legal for the time being, a statement which angered the ACLU. The group is now threatening to sue the state over that action.
The issue of gay marriage is one that often sparks fiery emotions from individuals on both sides. Conservatives feel that the government needs to protect a traditional view of marriage, liberals want same-sex marriage recognized as legal at the federal level, and libertarians tend to be split, some saying it is completely up to the states, while others say no government interference should be allowed in marriage.
The two libertarian views seem to be the ones that most line up with the principles of liberty and freedom. Everyone has the right to live their life as they choose, without government approval. That is the basic principle of liberty. As long as the activities a person engages in does not harm others nor pick their pocket, a human being is free to do what they wish, without the government interfering in their private business. According to this principle, homosexual couples should be allowed to voluntarily enter into a contract with each other, with no need for government involvement. The government should have no say in who a person chooses to be in a relationship with.
That being said, those who oppose same-sex marriage can still do so, only at a cultural level, not through legislation. This protects the rights of all Americans, not just one group over the other, which is the current path the country is on. If gay marriage is successfully opposed, then the rights of homosexuals have been violated and oppressed by the religious crowd. If it is made legal through legislation, it will not be long before the government will force churches and other institutions to recognize same-sex marriage, effectively violating their religious liberties. The only real solution is to get the government out of the way, so that both groups are free to do what they choose without being oppressed by the other.
While that is the ideal scenario and solution, the likelihood of it happening is slim, which leaves the option of states’ rights on the table. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution outlines the powers given up by states to the federal government, and all powers not listed are reserved to the states. When reading this list, it is easy to notice that regulating marriage is not one of the enumerated powers of the federal government, therefore, it is up to states to decide on the matter. If a state legislature legalizes gay marriage, the federal government has no authority to overturn that ruling. If the state decides to ban homosexual marriage, again, the federal government cannot overturn that decision. This means that if the state of Michigan has decided to allow a same-sex marriage ban to remain in place, and it is the law of the land for the state until people change that law in the Michigan legislature.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell