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viewpoint

The fundamental human right to marriage

| Thursday, April 27, 2017

This letter is a response to a previous letter to the editor titled “Tolerance and Intolerance”

Dear Mr. Buhr,

In your letter on April 24, you began by stating that opposing same-sex marriage is not an intolerant view, because “government entitlements are not human rights.” I disagree with this statement because marriage is, in fact, a right.

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court presided over the groundbreaking case Loving v. Virginia. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the unanimous court that “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival.” But perhaps this is not enough to convince you, as the Loving case concerned interracial marriage rather than same-sex marriage. If you remain unsatisfied, it may help to read Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s majority opinion in California’s federal district court case Perry v. Schwarzenegger. In this 2012 landmark case, Walker struck down California’s Proposition 8, which sought to eliminate same-sex couples’ right to marriage, citing the constitutional right to marry.

But maybe you don’t feel that the Supreme Court has the right to make these rulings, as marriage is not defined as a right in the Constitution. However, the Constitution does include Amendment IX, which asserts that the rights of citizens are not limited by those explicitly listed in the Constitution. In fact, the Supreme Court has relied on this amendment to define other fundamental rights besides the right to marry, like the right to parent one’s children, the right to privacy, the right to follow a profession and the right to associate with others. Indeed, there are so many non-enumerated rights that it is difficult to pick a favorite (personally, I’m torn between protection on the high seas from pirates and the right to vote).

At any rate, I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion that government entitlements are “certainly not” human rights. Unfortunately, marriage is not a government entitlement, as it has repeatedly been defined as a fundamental human right. I think possibly my confusion at your letter comes from the fact that legalizing gay marriage would not affect you in any way. Please, illuminate me as to how a same-sex couple getting married in this country infringes on your ability to enjoy your own life. Is it simply that you believe same-sex couples disrespect the very idea of traditional marriage? Perhaps Justice Kennedy’s thoughts on same-sex couples in 2015 would help allay some of those fears:

“Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. … It is so ordered.”

Simply put, when it is so ordered and someone rejects that order, he is intolerant. In this case, he is intolerant of same sex couples and their rights and intolerant of the courts that protect them. We cannot allow people to twist definitions to validate their intolerant views.

It will always be a painful truth that there are people out there like you, Mr. Buhr, who oppose the right to marriage. But one thing that gives me hope, and that gives hope to people like me, is that the justice system in the United States declared the right of same-sex marriage to be fundamental. It has cemented this right in the decisive case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, and time and time again in the dozens of cases that came before it. It has cemented this right as it has every other, with those four important words: it is so ordered.

Mary Szromba

freshman

April 26

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

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  • Annette Magjuka

    Ms. Szromba, your intelligence and eloquence make me hopeful for the future of our country. Thank you for this clarification. As Catholics, we must be wary of “religious liberty” legislation that is nothing more than a free pass for discrimination.

    • Bailey

      As Catholics, we must keep our eyes on reality and recognize universal truth as it applies to the zeitgeist of any age.

      • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

        Most Catholics aren’t homophobic bigots like you are.

        • Bailey

          Homophobic bigot is a meaningless term used as a divisive social construct by those who are ignorant.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Denying human rights to people just because their love someone of the same gender is what’s truly divisive.

          • Gator McClusky

            Yes you are correct . It is merely a derogatory term used by the losing side to shut down debate.
            Homophobic = irrational fear of sameness. Of course they mean homosexuality
            Regardless, not liking or agreeing with some aspects of the gay agenda is neither Irrational nor a fear. Merely disagreeing about a social policy is not equivalent to hatred or fear.
            Libertarians and conservatives never use the _____phobic term because they adult enough to accept that someone might have an honest disagreement with an idea and not necessarily afraid or a hater.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Did you get triggered? Do you need a safe space to cry about being called a homophobe?

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Did you get triggered? Do you need a safe space to cry about being called a homophobe?

      • Gator McClusky

        Catholics should recognize the reasons Catholic ideology believes what it does and should not just blindly adopt wildly varying ideology that is contrary to Catholic belief just because It is fashionable.
        Just because a dog believes it is a cat doesn’t make it a cat
        However if a Catholic believes in things such as gay marriage and abortion he is probably best served by professing a different faith. Trying to expand the faith beyond its beliefs is like trying to over fill a balloon with the same results – the church becomes meatless and dissolves

  • KD

    Good piece, but disagreement with Supreme Court rulings does not intolerance make (see Dred Scott, Plessy, Korematsu, etc.)

    • what no really

      Oh, but sometimes it can (Loving, Obergefell, Brown v. Board)

      • KD

        Sure, but the article doesn’t say sometimes, it says, “Simply put, when it is so ordered and someone rejects that order, he is intolerant.” The Supreme Court is the arbiter of law, but it is not the arbiter of morality, and we should not five out of nine lawyers take the place of our own moral judgement.

      • Bailey

        Obergefell decision is not grounded in reality.

        • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

          A Republican-majority Supreme Court voted in favour of same-sex marriage. If you don’t like it, move to Russia.

          • Bailey

            Facts always allude you?

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Did I say any lie? If so, state it.

          • Gator McClusky

            Forget it, he is a left wing operative
            No matter what you write he is just going to spout left wing propaganda
            Probably getting paid by a left wing soros operation to indoctrinate undereducated naive college students

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            You’re nothing but a cuck of big oil corporations that want to destroy the planet. Sad.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            You’re nothing but a cuck of big oil corporations that want to destroy the planet. Sad.

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Who pays you? Trump? Milo Paedopoulos?

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Who pays you? Trump? Milo Paedopoulos?

        • what no really

          The reality of my gay marriage feels otherwise.

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    So saying that most Catholics aren’t homophobes isn’t allowed in the comment section? Maybe homophobic hate speech is more acceptable?

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    Are you really comparing people with kitchen utensils? Are you that stupid?

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    There is no official religion in the US. Learn your constitution. If you want to live in a theocracy, move to Saudi Arabia.

  • Gator McClusky

    Pretty obvious this was written by a freshman and one who has only been educated on one side of the debate.
    Marriage is a construct that has existed for thousands of years. And for thousands of years it has been between a man and a woman. The reason it exists is basically threefold
    1 to protect women while they are having children by tying the woman and child to the man
    2 to establish legitimacy upon children as it concerns family membership and inheritance.
    3 because the two parent family (male and female) is by far the best environment for raising children and is the basis for a stable healthy society.

    ( notice, that none of those reasons had anything to do with love)
    A so called “gay marriage” has none of the above factors involved therefore is not a marriage.
    What “gay marriage” truly is, is an attempt by radicals duchess as leftists to deconstruct all of the underlying institutions of society, expanding definitions that had been in place for thousands of years until the definitions are so watered down as to be meaningless. What this accomplishes for these radicals is that they will be gain tremendous power by being the ones who create new definitions of speech and action. The reasons those institutions lasted for as long as they do is because THEY WORKS. Moreover they have been proven to work.
    Because of time constraints I will have to leave it at that. Do me a favor, in the future, learn why long standing traditions exist and work BEFORE embarking on some half baked crusade to change things just because it’s fashionable to do so

  • Gator McClusky

    If tomorrow the Supreme Court declared that abortion was immoral and murder do you think that these gay marriage leftists would say “it’s the decision of the court therefore it is the Moral Authority and we must agree with it” ? Ummm heck no! They would put out long diatribes on how the court and governments have no authority moral of otherwise to do so.

    Honestly the Supreme Court is highly political and also changeable but the constitution isn’t supposed to be.

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    You’re a disgusting racist and homophobic human being. People like you have no place in a civilized society. Sad.

  • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

    You’re a disgusting racist and homophobic human being. People like you have no place in a civilized society. Sad.