North Carolina’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban may soon be getting the Supreme-Court treatment.
It’s about time.
The Fourth Circuit federal appeals court, which covers North Carolina and several other East Coast states, struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage on Monday, and set the stage for a potential Supreme Court challenge to that ban and others like it across the country.
The Supreme Court needs to rule on states’ constitutional bans against same-sex marriage because, like it or not, this is a civil liberties issue. And civil liberties issues should rarely, if ever, be decided by majority referendum, since they so often affect members of minority groups.
Civil rights issues, particularly those related to marriage and civil unions, provoke such visceral reactions, that the opinion of the constitutional experts on the Supreme Court is of the highest value, and both sides of the argument should welcome a Supreme Court review.
That’s the determination that needs to be made — not whether same-sex marriage is right or wrong in a moral sense or in relation to one religious creed or another, but whether the right of same-sex couples to marry is protected by the Constitution.
One of the arguments made by the Fourth Circuit court in striking down Virginia’s amendment is that state constitutional same-sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment, which enumerates, in broad terms, civil rights protections afforded to American citizens.
That argument may hold water, but the issue at hand is one of such gravity that a higher governmental authority needs to weigh in.