There are two things of which I want to publicly state my current opinion. I say "current" because as any human my opinions change or alter over time. In the past I opposed gay marriage. Last year my opinion started to shift and then completely changed in support of gay marriage. However, the reasons I support gay marriage are often times different than many. Also I don't prescribe to some of the assumptions others do when it comes to definitions or ideas. That is why I want to, today, state those differences.
I am a conservative libertarian. I believe People are free to live their own life as they see fit. I believe in a small government whose actions do not interfere with one's life except where instructed to in the Constitution. I believe all people are created equal. I believe in the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that the constitution does not guarantee happiness or equal outcomes, but it guarantees the ability for one to work for their own happiness and situation in life.
I hear often that marriage is an inalienable right, a human right or something we are entitled. An inalienable right is something that by mere birth you are entitled too. By being born you are entitled to life, that is not something someone should be able to take away from you. The moment something created or introduced by man, is introduced, the attainment of that thing is not an inalienable right. By the fact of being born I am not entitled to an Apple computer (as a very simplistic example). By the fact of being born I am not entitled to a good paying job.
When I hear marriage being described as an inalienable right, human right or something we are entitled, I cringe. Inalienable: "unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor". Marriage is a human invention, function of God, or governmental recognition. This invalidates marriage as an inalienable right.
Marriage is, for all intents and purposes, a legal privilege. "Privilege (legal ethics), a permission granted by law or other rules". Because marriage is a government recognition, and/or a religious sacrament makes it a privilege, not a right. Therefore marriage is not an inalienable right, it is a legal privilege.
Because I am a conservative libertarian, I believe in small and limited government. If I had my way, marriage would not be in existence as we know it in America. Instead it would be much like marriage in England. In England, they have a common marriage which is given to all and afterwards marriages of a religious nature can take place. This is done, so that the Queen may attend any marriage ceremony. The religious ceremony is separate and done on top of the common marriage, but not given any special privilege by law. In England, Mormons are married in a common marriage, done much like a traditional wedding in America and afterwards they go to the Temple to be sealed (religious marriage on top of the common marriage).
I prefer this type of marriage than America's version. Give everyone equal legal footing, and then religious marriages can be done on their own accord without government intervention. Basically getting the government out of the marriage business as much as possible. But in America, there is no separation. A marriage is a marriage, therefore, all should be given equal opportunity to be married, to attain the legal status and privileges. Because all people should be equal before the law.
This action in Utah wasn't the will of the people and so to declare Utah a changed state is incorrect. A majority of people in Utah voted to deny gay people the access to marriage. A lone judge overturned hundreds of thousands of people's vote. A democracy is a majority rules form of government. This isn't perfect, but it is the best form of government currently conceived of in the world. A lone judge to overturn a law voted by a majority is a dangerous precedent.
Yes, majority rule brought segregation, brought miscegenation, and brought Hitler (in Germany). But what happens when we allow judges to overrule a law voted by a majority or authority to change laws? Should a judge be allowed to rule in a closed and secret court that the government is allowed to spy on its citizens? Should a judge be allowed to rule that a government drone is allowed to kill a U.S. citizen abroad with out a trial? Should a judge be allowed to rule that a sixteen year old boy who killed four while driving drunk isn't guilty because he is too rich and wasn't taught correctly from his parents? (All these examples are true by the way).
While a rule of the majority has brought us gross and horrifying things, a rule by a lone judge can bring us equally gross and horrifying things.
Governing isn't a perfect science. Politics are messy and sometimes things go horribly wrong. Remember that the Supreme Court didn't rule in favor of Prop 8 from California. Instead it said that the plaintiff had no standing in SCOTUS, and therefore the lower courts ruling stood. In the decision the justices stated that such a topic (gay marriage) should play out in the states, over a period of time, in order to come to a solid decision and not a volatile, socially unsettled law (Ginsberg referred to Roe v. Wae as an example of something the court should have let play out in the states instead of in the Court). Judges are tasked with determining the constitutionality of laws passed by the people, but I agree with the assessment by Ginsberg that it is important for things of this magnitude and importance to play out across the country than by a quick change of law by judges. I think it applies to a federal court judge as well.
Aside from these points of alarm and disagreement, I'm very excited about gay marriage in Utah. My heart is excited for my dear friends whose wedding ceremony last year is now officially recognized by the state and the law. My heart is full for the potential for my own marriage to a man of my choosing. My heart is glad for all those who's love is now given full and equal recognition and legal privilege.
But my mind is troubled by the eroding definition of an inalienable right and the harm that can come from a growing list of what is considered inalienable. My mind is worried about the ease of overruling a vote of the majority. My mind is concerned for the volatility of such a happy law.
My mind is trouble while my heart is full.