Friday, June 26, 2015

Long Live the Individual

The United States Supreme Court made history today, reversing thousands of years of bigotry and the unholy nexus between the state and organized religion. In a 5-4 ruling along ideological lines, the majority rules that marriage between homosexual couples in the entire United States is legal and states cannot deny it to anyone based on a reading of the 14th Amendment, an old amendment brought in during Reconstruction that still has powerful relevance today.

The question over #GayMarriage is not one of religion. If religions forbid or frown upon it, then so be it. Nobody has the power to change that but the proponents of the religion themselves. It is nobody's business to fight against a religion not their's. However, government belongs to all citizens of the state and it is everybody's business as to what the government does and what it doesn't. The proper place for government is in public affairs of society and not in the private lives of individuals. Marriage as a union between individuals to allow them to avail rights promised by law - joint ownership of property, join custody of children, joint filing of taxes, non-discriminatory right to government services, right against discrimination in other services, and all the many rights that inherently belong to free people in union - is very much in the hands of government, but only in the form of a trust. While the government may provide services to couples in wedlock, it has no authority to determine who is a couple and who is not, as long as there is no criminality involved, in the strict sense of the term 'criminal' i.e., acting and intending to cause harm to the property of others.

Indeed, even society as a whole, as represented by popular government, has no right to tell people who to marry and who not to. This judgment will certainly come under fire from the religious right, but they are clearly on the losing side of history. Priests and pastors may refuse to provide religious sanction to gay marriages, and they have their reasons to do so, but the state cannot refuse that right. For, religious officials are officers of their god, but the state is the trustee of the public at large. God can discriminate, the state cannot.

This judgment may be challenged in the future, since it was a 5-4 ruling (unlike Brown v BOE, which was unanimous and no longer open to legal challenge), but for now, the sun of freedom is shining over the land of the free. 

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