As the debate wages over the definition of marriage in the United States, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that nations under its jurisdiction are not required to recognize same sex marriage. This huge ruling could have a major impact on the American Supreme Court who is expected to make a ruling on marriage during its next session.
The US Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which needed to be struck down due to its discriminatory treatment of same sex couples. However the high court justices sidestepped the Proposition 8 ruling in favor of kicking the measure back to the lower court on a technicality.
Proposition 8 was a hot button for the marriage definition but the Supreme Court reversed the decision to rule on Prop 8 since the California Attorney General did not defend Prop 8. A private citizen brought the case to the Supreme Court for California, then the high court refused to rule based on that very premise.http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2010/sep/3/californias-jerry-brown-wont-defend-prop-8/
A prime reason why the European court made a 14-3 decision not to force recognition of same sex marriage is that a consensus of European countries do not recognize same sex marriage, a ratio of 37 countries that do not recognize same sex marriages and only 10 countries that do recognize same sex marriages.
The conclusion was it would be better to let the debate continue instead of forcing every country to comply when only a minority of European nations has approved same sex marriage.
Currently in the United States 31 states have imposed bans on same sex marriage with only 19 giving approval. Only three states have approved same sex marriage by referendum, Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Eight states validated same sex marriage by legislative action and eight states added same sex marriage by judicial rulings.
Which means there really has not been a voter consensus since only 3 of the 19 states approving same sex marriage ruled so by popular vote.
The European Court saw the issue the same way and ruled not to make any changes until there is more of a validation from the countries involved. When the US Supreme Court rules on a marriage issue later, you can bet consideration may follow the same logic as the European Court of Human Rights.
Not much movement has taken place in the United States since 2012 but with the midterm elections coming up in November, unless there is a major move to approve same sex marriage by voter approval, it is doubtful the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage to incorporate same sex couples on a universal ruling. Three states is hardly a sufficient movement to redefine the traditional understanding of marriage.
Additionally, it is highly significant that the European Court of Human Rights are basically saying that same sex marriage is not a right as defined currently. This ruling comes from a court traditionally very liberal with human right assessments. Marriage is being looked at by definition and not as what has been touted as an inalienable right.
The morality and definition of marriage has been avoided for the most part and run as a political civil rights issue in America. It would be the first time rights have been assigned due to behavior as oppose to something that should be protected because of birthright.
The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights could have well put the question or whether same sex marriage is a right or not back into the arena where it belongs which is to allow the people to set its definition.