Letters to the Editor
Readers write about why the Iowa court made the right call on gay marriage.
The Iowa court ruled correctly on gay marriage
In regard to the April 10 Opinion piece, "The injustice of Iowa's ruling on gay marriage": Author Matthew J. Franck uses the word "moral" 21 times in this commentary – as in moral health, moral obligation, moral reasoning, and foundational morality – but he seems to be defining morality to suit a narrow view.
He implies that marriage equality in Iowa is somehow improper because it violates his exclusionary sense of morality. However, the families with gay children or gay parents all around us fit into most definitions of moral behavior, starting with mutual support and respect.
In this commentary, Matthew J. Franck writes, "Marriage and family are a moral institution," and insinuates that same-sex marriage is not moral. He also seems to suggest that the love that same-sex couples have for each other is not moral, a judgment undoubtedly focused on bias instead of a healthy and objective observation of the facts. Gay people in loving, committed relationships are no less moral than heterosexuals, and the stability and morality of their relationships deserve the same legal protections under the laws of our land as those afforded heterosexual couples.
In seeking to consummate their relationships through marriage, gay people are simply seeking the same rights that heterosexuals have enjoyed for centuries. Without marriage, they're prevented from accessing well over a thousand basic rights that heterosexual couples rightly take for granted. Those rights are so embedded in marriage that it is impossible to separate them from the institution.
Statistics show that children of same-sex couples are as healthy and well-adjusted as children of heterosexual couples. Gay families deserve the full rights of citizenship with no less respect from society and the legal system than their heterosexual counterparts receive.
Matthew J. Franck's opinion piece about the Iowa court ruling on same-sex marriage builds a flawed case against the ruling.
Mr. Franck's opposition is based on the premise that morality is built solely on a religious foundation. Franck's is a circular argument, solipsistic in its reasoning. The ethical concepts of justice, equality, the common good and so forth predate any religious doctrine, in both Western and Eastern philosophies. One has only to read Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Plotinus, or Confucious, to name a few, to realize that questions of ethical behavior, or of justice, do not belong to the realm of religion, but to human rationality.
If our governmental system is designed to allow majority rule, with a check-and-balance judiciary to ensure minority rights are protected, why do those on the political right get angry when this takes place?
Why are judges "activist" when they rule against the right, but wise and fair when they rule in the right's favor?
Matthew J. Franck's commentary is certainly a more sophisticated take on this same argument, but it nonetheless takes its place among those arguments that supported Jim Crow and antimiscegenation laws.
It's hard for some to feel a tectonic shift due to a civil rights ruling. Whether it's a preacher in the Deep South or a Princeton fellow, their arguments always fall by the wayside in the march of history.
A "fair reading of the Constitution'" has always erred on the side of minority rights, as opposed to the unfettered rule of the majority. That is why we have a Supreme Court system in the first place.
What if the majority decided to ban mosques or synagogues? What if the liberal majority decided to restrict free speech to those who agreed with the current administration? What if the state of Maine decided to exempt Maine businesses from sales tax while charging sales tax on goods made in other states?
When antimiscegenation laws were struck down a generation ago, there were those who said it heralded the end of marriage as we know it. But the rest of us, whether we supported interracial marriage or not, soon got used to the new paradigm, and realized that what those laws represented was fundamentally unfair.
It is also unfair to restrict marriage from those whose biology is hardwired differently from our own.
When the legislature cannot act, based on electoral fear of the tyranny of the majority, the last refuge for minority rights is the court system.
Good for Iowa, good for Vermont, good for Washington, D.C. for choosing to recognize all marriages. May the wisdom of the founders inform the California court's decision and overturn the mean-spirited and hate-filled Proposition 8.
Matthew J. Franck's article complaining about the Iowa courts' support of gay marriage misses an important concept: US courts have always played an instrumental role in reflecting changing values in US morals.
Recall back when the courts made rulings forcing whites and blacks to attend the same schools. That was clearly the work of a court system that had decided it had the moral authority to tell communities to do things that they did not want to do. In hindsight, the courts were right. Since only the court can determine whether or not legislation is constitutional, we must place our faith in the courts that they will make the right decision.
As for Mr. Franck's belief that gays shouldn't be married, I'd recommend that he pay a little bit more attention to current science, which suggests that there are physical differences between gays and straights as evidenced by differences in their brains.
This commentary failed to address the fact that the courts are in place partly to ensure that the will of the majority does not infringe on the rights of the minority. Religion is different for everyone, and in fact does not exist for many, so why should it be considered when weighing laws that nonbelievers, too, must live under?
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