Opinion: Marriage is a Human Right

By Michael Ceron in Opinion

Obergefell v. Hodges, a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago, has the potential to overturn same-sex marriage bans and make marriage equality a reality in all 50 states.

Jim Obergefell, the namesake plaintiff for this case was married in Baltimore in 2013.  His husband passed away three months later from amyotrophic laterals sclerosis in their home state of Ohio. Since Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Arthur Obergefell was listed as single on his death certificate.

Jim Obergefell is now fighting the state of Ohio to make the change on the death certificate.

Obergefell v. Hodges comes two years after the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down.

The Defense of Marriage Act forbade same-sex couples from being viewed as spouses by the federal government.  Since the law was ruled unconstitutional, many states have ruled same-sex marriage legal.
The state of Ohio’s refusal to recognize his marriage is devaluing and dehumanizing the relationship that these men shared.  The Supreme Court cannot let that stand, and must rule in favor of Obergefell.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution offers all citizens equal protection under the eyes of the law. It also says that no state will pass or enforce any laws that will infringe on the rights of those citizens.

The state of Ohio, and other states that have banned same-sex marriage, have transformed homosexuals in this country into second class citizens by denying them a fundamental human right to marry.

Legal protections given to married couples are denied to them because a state refuses to acknowledge a legally binding document from a different state.

Even in states where same-sex marriage is legal, people are looking to the courts for validation. Clark student Deanna Fontijn said that a positive court decision would be humanizing. It would strengthen the “we” in “we the people.”

A loss would open the door and set precedent for other’s rights to be taken away.  A same-sex couple living in a state where their marriage is legal could see their marriage certificate revoked if the court sets a precedent by ruling in favor of Hodges.

Opponents to same-sex marriage argue that this is not a decision for the court to make. This is a decision for the people, through votes and civil petitions.  However,  Americans far and wide have spoken. According to a CBS and a New York Times Poll conducted on May 3, 57 percent of Americans agree that same-sex marriage should be legal.  Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.  Only 13 states ban them, four of which – Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee – are currently defendants in the cases before the Supreme Court.

There is also the issue of religious beliefs interfering with legal rights in the U.S. “When you base it on voting, people are voting to their bias,” Said Oscar Beltran, the President of the Queer Penguins and Allies Club at Clark.  “I think it’s better going through the courts.”

In the end, this is not a case of religion, nor a case of federal and state rights.  This is a case of human rights, and the freedoms that the constitution provides to the individual.

Jim Obergefell’s request is a simple one.  He wants to be listed on his husband’s death certificate.  He wants the state of Ohio to recognize his relationship for what it was:  a marriage between two adults who were deeply in love. Clark student Tracie Dorsch put it best,  “It’s just love. Why would you put a stipulation on that?”

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