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It's A Gray Area: History's lessons support marriage equality

April 05, 2013|By James P. Gray

These thoughts might be controversial to some, but the issue is timely, and the moment to correct a series of injustices is now. Therefore, it is time for our country, and all of us in it, to recognize and enforce marriage equality.

Before I go further, it must be said that libertarians believe that neither government nor anyone else has the right to tell other people what they should believe. That issue should be left to the individuals themselves, as guided by their chosen religious teachings, philosophies and core beliefs.

Furthermore, most libertarians do not believe that the government should be involved in issuing marriage licenses at all. And further, religious institutions should continue to have the constitutional right to decide who can and cannot receive their blessings.

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Maybe a little history would provide some perspective on the issue of marriage equality.

In our country, most state governments began issuing marriage licenses as a way of enforcing miscegenation laws, which made interracial marriage, cohabitation and sexual relationships a crime. In fact, the term "miscegenation" was first coined in the United States in 1863.

Similar laws were also enforced in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. But after World War II, many states began to repeal their miscegenation laws, and those that remained on the books were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1967 case Loving vs. the State of Virginia as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Since that time, it has been the law of our land that no governments could intrude upon an adult's choice of a heterosexual partner based on race. I hope that everyone pondering this issue is in agreement with that result.

As to some of my personal experiences as a trial court judge, when I was on the adoptions calendar, I was presented on several occasions with applications for the adoption of a natural mother's child by her lesbian live-in partner. In each case, after looking at the facts and being mindful that the legal standard was to act in the best interest of the child, I granted the application and personally performed the adoption ceremony. Those were the right decisions.

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