“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” – Johann Schiller
Former U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, came out on Monday, March 18, 2013, to officially support, “personally and as a matter of policy and law,” gay marriage. In a six-minute video, released by the Human Rights Campaign‘s arm in support of marriage equality, Ms. Clinton said that gays and lesbians are “full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship,” and that “that includes marriage.” The announcement of Mrs. Clinton could not come at a better time; a week before the United States Supreme Court hears arguments on two gay-marriage cases – The high court will hear arguments on March 26 on the Proposition 8 case and on March 27 on the Defense of Marriage Act case.
It is no surprise that one of the main debates of today’s society is the debate about what the terms marriage and family really mean, and therefore, what is or can be considered a valid marriage and a true family. Many have taken the task of trying to define these terms taking history as a guidance, and others using religion as a shelter to their definitions. However, few have used human nature and human solidarity as the source to define these terms that are so entrenched to an individuals’ identity. Today, almost forty years after the first court definition of marriage was held, and after homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness, and almost ten years after the United States Supreme Court placed sexual conduct within the protected interests of the right to privacy, there is still no consensus as to what the terms marriage and family really mean, and as to who is entitled to the use of the those terms.
On February 20, 2013, for example, a majority opinion of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, issued by Judge Mildred Charneco Pabon, ruled that a woman cannot adopt the biological daughter of his partner, also a woman, without the latter losing its legal relationship with the child because a “a family is comprised of a mother and father” and that is what “is best for a child's dignity and well-being.” The Judge Chief Justice, Federico Hernández Denton, dissented and, by emphasizing that the primary forum was able to prove that adoption would benefit the child, concluded that the requested adoption ban is unconstitutional because the protection against gender discrimination guaranteed in the Bill of Rights prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and because. On the other hand, on February 22, 2013, the Kansas Supreme Court, in Marci Frazier v. Kelly Goudschaal, ruled in favor of gay adoption stating that “denying the children an opportunity to have two parents, the same as children of a traditional marriage, impinges upon the children's constitutional rights.”
As Ms. Clinton said in her speech, “if America wants to continue to lead the world, it must work on its own long march to a more perfect union… To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons, solely on the basis of who they are and who they love, is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.” In other words, and as Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said after Ms. Clinton’s speech, “we must treat others as we would like to be treated.” Too many individuals are being affected by the dichotomy of meanings imposed and surrounding these terms. Therefore, on March 26 and 27 we must ask the United States Supreme Court to remember that the Constitution is not a static and unchanging but a dynamic and modifiable document which should serve the needs of the citizens of this nation and its future generations in the same way and with equal magnitude.
In short, the highest court of this nation must remember the words that not too long ago echoed between the walls of its court in the case of Lawrence v. Texas expanding the dimensions of liberty and human choice in matters of intimacy. In that case, the court, noting how social and legal practices had underscored the respect and protection the constitution requires for the autonomy of a person in making personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education, stated that “matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Additionally, the court, stressing that “persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexuals do,” stated that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason to upholding a law prohibiting the practice; neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from constitutional attack,” that “individual decisions by married persons, concerning the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” and that “this protection extends to intimate choices by unmarried as well as married persons.” Therefore, “the State cannot demean a homosexual person’s existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime” because “their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.”
“Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” – Lawrence v. Texas (2003)