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Respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll were nearly evenly split on whether same-sex marriage should be a right protected by the U.S. Constitution or left for each state to decide. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the federal government is required to recognize gay marriages approved by states. A 5-4 majority struck down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.
A slight majority—50.5 percent—said legalizing same-sex marriage should be left for each state to decide, compared with 49.5 percent who say it should be protected by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court last week also declined to decide a case involving California’s Proposition 8—effectively allowing same-sex marriages to resume in that state.
The court’s rulings do not mean that all states must allow same-sex marriage; the justices did not say whether such unions are a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Some court observers believe, however, that by stating Congress “cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” the DOMA ruling opens the door to a broader decision applying to all states.
New York is one of 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized same-sex marriage. More than half of respondents—56 percent—support the 2011 law that legalized same-sex marriage in New York.
Shortly before the 2011 law was enacted, respondents to an RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll—by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent—favored New York legalizing same-sex marriage.
Roughly 675 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted July 1.
Should same-sex marriage be a right protected by the U.S. Constitution or should it be left for each state to decide?
It should be left for each state to decide: 50.5%
It should be a right protected by the U.S. Constitution: 49.5%
Do you support or oppose the 2011 law that legalized same-sex marriage in New York?
Every significant civil rights advance in the United States has occurred at the federal level. Equality for LGBT Americans is no different. The repeal of DOMA is an excellent first step. My partner, Angela, and I were married last year. With the repeal of DOMA, our marriage is recognized as no different from those of straight couples.
—C. Lewis, Fairport
Personally, I think this is far too much ado about a personal choice. Even personal choices have a way to be monitored and dealt with by legal system.
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield
If the same-sex marriage issue remained only the right to take vows before a justice of the peace, then I would have less concerns about the issue. However, it has become obvious from various lawsuits that this is really about silencing anyone who for religious reasons disagrees with same-sex marriage. My God has not changed His mind about marriage and homosexuality. Therefore I will continue to disagree on moral grounds about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. God-defined morality always trumps man-defined morality.
Equality and fair treatment should be at the heart of a democracy. Embracing open-mindedness, throwing off the shackles of ignorance, recognizing the humanity of every individual: this is what we must strive for as we move forward. This is the correct thing to do. Now happily married.
—Eve Elzenga, interior designer, Eve Elzenga Design
According to the Supreme Court judgment on the issue, it is not a matter of the constitutional right versus states’ rights. The issue is the degree to which a state defines or prohibits what a marriage is, if it does not hurt the children of same-sex families subjecting them to ridicule and monetary discrimination. Your first question is not valid, as it is not a legal choice referring to the Fifth Amendment. It does not preclude individual states from defining a legal marriage, only the degree to which they can define and regulate what a marriage is.
Needless to say, it is a civil rights issue. As a minister, I believe it is also a moral issue to protect individuals who are just seeking the same rights as others. This will go back to the Supreme Court because it is not tenable for married gay people to relocate to another state and have their marriage invalidated and their children not protected. While I am a champion of states’ rights, in this situation it is not practical.
—Rev. Joy Collins
Our country was founded on the principals of equality to all and separation of church and state. This will gain momentum and support over time and our federal government will catch up with (it) as they did with other oppressed groups over time.
—Ira Korn, CCIM
All marriages—regardless of the sex of the spouses—require the same level of protection. No “type” of (monogamous) marriage should be afforded greater or lesser protection than any other, by the U.S. or by any state.
If left to referendum or state legislators, we would still have slavery. Even with the 13th Amendment, this battle has been fought, and will continue to be fought for some time to come. The U.S. Constitution protects the right of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, i.e. state legislators and referenda. This clear individual right needs to be enumerated in our Constitution.
It’s just a matter of fairness and equality.
—Jeff Schuetz, Mitchell Pierson Jr. Realtors
I think that we cannot legislate morality. In my view, same-sex marriage is an offense to God in a huge way. The problem is that American society has drifted away from those moral foundations found in the scriptures. But as a free society, not everyone subscribes to the moral authority of scripture; so we cannot legislate that they do. We need to address how society views these things so that we heal from within. However, history has shown that when we start down the path American society is going is that we will rot from within because we cannot heal society before that happens. This is what happened to the Roman Empire.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
I strongly support civil unions and the ability of same-sex couples to have essentially all the rights that married couples have. I disagree with the less traditional use of the term “marriage” in the context of heterogeneous couples. I would prefer that the term “marriage” be reserved for the union of a man and a woman. Call me a traditionalist.
This week we celebrate the Fourth of July and the birth of our nation. We recall the sage words of our founders: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If our country truly stands for equality, then we must ensure that everyone has the right to pursue happiness and to decide who they love. Equal treatment under the law means giving loving couples in a committed relationship the same rights and responsibilities, regardless of gender. This is the civil rights issue of our day. Under separation of church and state, our founders wisely protected the right of people to follow the faith traditions of their choice without interference from government. At the same time, they also protected the state from one religious tradition imposing its will on all. That’s why marriage equality applies to civil marriage contracts, not religious wedding ceremonies. Thus, Americans should be able to pursue happiness in the context of their own faith beliefs, to create families in the diverse mosaic of our country, and to get married if that is their desire. Happy Independence Day!
—Hon. Sandra L. Frankel, former supervisor, Town of Brighton
Sorry, call me an anachronism, but I can’t get over the cause for marriage in the first place—to procreate! I cannot condone same-sex and marriage in the same sentence. It just ain’t natural!
—Hutch Hutchison, In T'Hutch Ltd.
This is a civil rights issue where all citizens deserve the constitutional right to enter into a marriage contract and be afforded the current benefits of that relationship. The individual states should not be the recognizing authority as we need to have protected and uniform rights for all our nation's citizens. Just because we may have the ability to exercise certain rights, doesn't force individuals to use those rights or impose those rights on others; i.e., religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage will not be forced to perform these marriages or recognize these marriages within their own faith community, but they will need to offer the same national rights (marriage and family employment rights for example) to their employees. I fully support New York’s 2011 law and urge our state to adopt the Women’s Equality Agenda in the next legislative session.
—Michael L. Harf
I'm all for equal rights, just use a different name to identify the type of union it is: man/woman (marriage); woman/woman; man/man. Given my “Words with Friends” play, it seems there is an abundance of letter combinations that are not in use that could be adopted to describe the specific type of union it is.
Where in the Constitution does it state the federal government is supposed to regulate marriage? —Jim W. Bloomfield
It seems that there is an element that wants to use gay rights, women's rights or any other group’s rights as an issue to push a hidden agenda of attacking those who don't dance to their drummer. Will any group be allowed to force churches and synagogues and mosques to marry them or fear losing a tax-exempt status? Will religions be obligated to recognize things they oppose on religious beliefs? Will atheists be forced to recognize a supreme being? All should be guaranteed opportunity. No one should be guaranteed results. When did sanity and reason go out of style? I believe it was when we chucked the melting pot idea for the multicultural one. We don't try to get along and work together, we try and establish our turf and someone else's expense.
Marriage between any two people of legal majority should be a constitutional right. Let's move on to other morality concerns that really are life-and-death questions, such as abortion, capital punishment, drone missiles, torture, gun violence, et al.
The word marriage must not be open to interpretation. I believe union of two individuals is a correct adaptation in which the laws covering two people as partners is a reasonable accommodation in which the laws of a given state can be applied and the coverage can be specified to match married couples including all the tax penalties “enjoyed” by married couples.
—D. Kiriazides, retired
The government should extricate itself from the entire issue of marriage and civil unions. No license should be required, simply a stop at the county clerk’s office to register the marriage or civil union. On the federal level, there should be no involvement in marriages or civil unions since there is no part of our nation's constitution that was written to permit or disallow anything remotely related to marriage or civil unions. The Constitution structures our government and limits its powers to only those we the people grant it. Marriages and civil unions are state's rights issues only under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Recent Supreme Court decisions make it appear otherwise and the “Supremes” seem intent upon creating a judicial tyranny, by overruling laws created and passed by we the people. That is a disgrace. We the people must resist and somehow get that court back where it belongs in the structure of our constitution-based government.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party, Canandaigua