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Editorial: A historic moment for gay marriage

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | APRIL 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Supreme Court appears to be ramping up toward declaring nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage that would coincide with a general shifting of public opinion in favor of such an action.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments that will ultimately decide the fate of same-sex marriage across the country.

Despite the legalization of same-sex marriage in 37 of 50 states, the issue is far from unanimous, with staunch pockets of opposition remaining. Same-sex marriage is not solely an issue of political affiliation, state rights, individual rights, religious or moral views, but a hybrid of all of the above. Thus, any decision on the matter for and against represents a multifaceted tug of war among a multitude of constituents with opposing agendas.

A unilateral decision on same-sex marriage has been a long time coming, despite the Supreme Court’s hesitance to definitively address the matter. This could be partially contributed to the progress being made across the nation for same-sex equality cannot overshadow the residual opposition that will remain a critical influence on the potential decision.

It is important to keep in mind that the Supreme Court is not an institution tasked with social justice advocacy, even if that is a result of its decision-making. The Supreme Court’s job is to interpret the Constitution in relation to the legality of state and federal policy.

As a result, public opinion both in favor of and against same-sex marriage may or may not be taken into account alongside precedent and varying interpretations of what is outlined in the Constitution by the nine Supreme Court Justices.

Whatever decision the Supreme Court makes by the deadline at the end of June, there will still undoubtedly be opposition from the losing side. It will take more than words on paper to unify all of the American people behind a decision on such a devisive issue.

An official ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage may address the legislative side of the issue, but the complete integration and implementation of same-sex marriage will take time.

For example, Iowa was the fourth state in the U.S to legalize same-sex marriage after an Iowa Supreme Court ruling upheld a lower court ruling in 2009. However, legislative decisions do not account for the thoughts and beliefs of every member of the constituency. In 2010, voters in a judicial-retention election ousted three of the justices who had supported the ruling.

Opposition to same-sex marriage remains in Iowa, and an adherence to social conservatism is still a viable political platform in the state.

Given the contentious nature of same-sex marriage, an inarguable decision by the highest court of the land will be an important step in solidifying its place in society. The hearts and minds of the American people cannot be changed overnight. However, taking same-sex marriage out of the arena of legal obscurity and conflicting state position will at least help to consolidate the fields in which it can be opposed until it cannot be opposed at all.


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