The freedom to marry for all couples

As posted by John D. Podesta and Robert A. Levy on

"Nearly a century after the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that 'marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man.' ' That 1967 case, Loving v. Virginia, ended bans on interracial marriage in the 16 states that still had such laws.

"Now, 43 years after Loving, the courts are once again grappling with denial of equal marriage rights -- this time to gay couples. We believe that a society respectful of individual liberty must end this unequal treatment under the law.

"Toward that goal, we have agreed to co-chair the advisory board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The foundation helped launch the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which is currently before a federal district court in California but is likely to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

... "Over more than two centuries, minorities in America have gradually experienced greater freedom and been subjected to fewer discriminatory laws. But that process unfolded with great difficulty.

"As the country evolved, the meaning of one small word -- 'all' -- has evolved as well. Our nation's Founders reaffirmed in the Declaration of Independence the self-evident truth that 'all Men are created equal,' and our Pledge of Allegiance concludes with the simple and definitive words 'liberty and justice for all.' Still, we have struggled mightily since our independence, often through our courts, to ensure that liberty and justice is truly available to all Americans.

"Thanks to the genius of our Framers, who separated power among three branches of government, our courts have been able to take the lead -- standing up to enforce equal protection, as demanded by the Constitution -- even when the executive and legislative branches, and often the public as well, were unwilling to confront wrongful discrimination.

... "The decision in Perry depends, of course, on values far more permanent and important than opinion polls. No less than the constitutional rights of millions of Americans are at stake. But the public appears to be catching up with the Constitution. Just a little more leadership from the courts would be the perfect prescription for a free society."

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