#LoveWins: What the US Supreme Court’s decision means

Does the judgment change anything in Malaysia?

I initially had my reservations as to the wisdom of the decision. However, like all court cases, the decision is a specific opinion based on the laws of the land applied to the facts of the case — the “land” in this case is the United States of America. We who are not bound by the laws of that land do not have to agree with the conclusion, nor the reasoning, adopted.

To be crystal clear: the decision turned on the reading of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. That is how narrow/precise this judgment is.

The summary of the issue, and of the judgment:

Issue: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The petitioners, 14 same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased, filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that respondent state officials violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have marriages lawfully performed in another State given full recognition. Each District Court ruled in petitioners’ favor, but the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed.

Judgment: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. The specific words used were —

“The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court also must hold — and it now does hold — that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

There will always be the “ick” factor. Homosexual relationships are a minority practice. Opponents will usually compare it to paedophilia and beastiality and say, “If you allow gay marriages, it’s a slippery slope to allowing marriages for people practicing paedophilia and bestiality.” This is a flawed logic. Paedophilia and bestiality are rooted in relationships where the ‘party of the second part’ is unable to give consent, i.e. children or animals. Gay marriages are between fully consenting adults.

There will also be the, “Marriage is between one man and one woman, and procreation is kinda expected. It is a special thing in society, almost sacred.” Well, marriage is a social construct informed by religion, but not necessarily beholden to religion, i.e. you are married both in the eyes of your religion AND in the eyes of the law of the land. The latter is a legal issue. And in the USA, their Constitution is the supreme law of their land. No religion has primacy there. So the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage has no special legal sway.

Also, let’s not forget that because marriage is a social-religious construct, it can be a sacrament or a contract, and it can mean different things at different periods of history, or at different places. Customary “marriages” between humans and animals have actually been reported, even before this decision — the “slippery slope” argument is automatically rebutted.

By all means object to this decision if you must. Criticise it. Berate it. Mock it. Pray about it.

But don’t ever forget that it is limited to the USA only. Legally only. Don’t make it more than what it is, because more than likely, it will mean almost nothing to your life as a Malaysian living in Malaysia.

References:

1. The judgment.

2. Article 6, U.S. Constitution.

3. 1st Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

4. Human-Animal marriages.

5. 14th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

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Jason Kay is from Melaka.

Posted on 29 June 2015. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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One Response to #LoveWins: What the US Supreme Court’s decision means

  1. Village Panda

    The Federalist website has an excellent take on this ruling.
    Me? As a Malaysian, it has no bearing in our country. Also, no benefit whatsoever.