Another state has begun to question its discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage this week — unfortunately, it’s not Michigan. On Oct. 1, a Texas district judge ruled that Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, the first ruling of its kind in the state. This ruling is part of a growing trend among judicial bodies to rule in favor of same-sex marriage and in favor of a basic human right. Moving forward, state legislatures should be more active in the process of reversing the blatantly discriminatory bans, and Michigan’s must be among them.
On October 1, Texas District Judge Tena Callahan ruled that two men married in Massachusetts could legally dissolve their marriage in Texas because the Constitution dictates “full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” In other words, a marriage conducted in one state should be recognized in all others. Judge Callahan further held that the state’s ban on gay marriage violates the Constitution. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is attempting to have the case overturned by higher courts in order to defend the “traditional definition of marriage” that was approved by 75 percent of the voters when the constitutional ban was enacted.
Such a definition of marriage is morally backward and actively discriminatory toward gay people. Gay relationships are just as loving and valid as heterosexual relationships, and for any law to pretend otherwise amounts to a tragic failing of justice. The fact that this injustice has been pushed onto most of the country by a hateful, socially conservative minority is fundamentally wrong and requires immediate corrective action in state and national courts and legislative bodies.
Thankfully, Texas is not the first state to revisit these bans, and instead comes at a time when gay rights are beginning to gain a measure of support from favorable court rulings and occasional legislative decisions. Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have all legalized same-sex marriage. The District of Columbia City Council also recently introduced legislation to allow same-sex marriage. With any hope, this emerging climate of tolerance heralds a shift from the culture that gave us the despicable Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
But while countless states are reconsidering their discriminatory laws toward LGBT people, gay marriage remains illegal in Michigan thanks to a constitutional amendment in 2009. The longer Michigan waits to join the changing tide in favor of gay marriage, the longer it must stand, disgraced, in the shadow of its ignorance on this issue. And with any hope, when the change does come, it will be the result of deliberate action on the part of a legislature unafraid to tell the voters of Michigan that it supports same-sex marriage and the equality of all people before the law.
The immoral crusade to ban same-sex marriage has turned gay couples into second-class citizens. Michigan must join the trend and end its discriminatory marriage laws without equivocation.