Yay! By a 5-4 split decision from the highest court in the land, handed down Friday, it is now lawful for same-sex couples to get married. Woot! Woot! Gay marriage is now legal everybody! Let’s celebrate! Put on your spanx, crank up the Boy George and let the wild rumpus begin!
Okay, I’m being sarcastic. I don’t even know if gays wear spanx or if they listen to Boy George. But the point is that the Supreme Court gave its blessing to gays seeking wedlock.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” wrote Justice Kennedy in the majority opinion. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Kennedy continued. “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.”
The high court came to its decision by deciding that same-sex marriage was a fundamental right and therefore individuals who wish to exercise that right are protected under the 14th Amendment, which reads in part (in case you forgot):
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities* of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I’m not going to wade into the conversation of whether marriage is a right or a privilege or whether I think the court got the decision right or wrong but what I will say is that if gay marriage is now widely recognized as a right and that citizens are free to exercise that right without interference from states — no more state bans on gay marriage — I think it’s about time that the Second Amendment gets the same treatment.
Let’s face facts, we have several states in this country (California, New York, New Jersey) that have fostered an institutional hostility toward firearms that permeates the state governments and Legislatures resulting in laws that effectively deny one the fundamental right of self-defense and infringe upon one’s Constitutional right to bear arms outside the home.
Specifically, I’m referring to ‘may-issue’ concealed carry laws that permit local law enforcement officers to arbitrarily deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights. The so-called “good cause” mandate, which means that concealed carry applicants have to, in addition to passing a background check and taking a gun safety course, provide to law enforcement a reason (usually in the form of documentation, e.g. police report of violent threat, restraining order), on why they should be allowed to carry a firearm.
May I state the obvious here? Does one need to provide a “good cause” before they exercise their right of free speech or freedom of religion or, now, their right to marry who they want to marry? I think not.
The constitutionality of may-issue is currently being litigated in California as well as Washington D.C. Back in May, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. scrapped D.C.’s “good cause” requirement.
“This conclusion should not be read to suggest that it would be inappropriate for the District of Columbia to enact a licensing mechanism that includes appropriate time, place and manner restrictions on the carrying of handguns in public,” wrote Scullin. “The District of Columbia’s arbitrary ‘good reason’/’proper reason’ requirement, however, goes far beyond establishing such reasonable restrictions.”
“Rather, for all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms,” he concluded.
While this latest ruling is a step in the right direction, the Supreme Court has still not weighed in on the matter. In fact, it’s turned down hearing cases that addressed this issue on multiple occasions over the years. The result of not having the high court weigh in on this is that may-issue laws are still on the books in states around the county which means Americans are not being permitted to exercise their rights which, if you’re still following me, appears to be in violation of the 14th Amendment (and, of course, the Second).
I guess that’s where I come out on this. I’m not a legal scholar, so there could be more to it that what I’ve written (I’m actually sure there is more to this). But in terms of what is logical and what is right, it seems to me that recognizing a citizen’s right to carry firearms outside the home without infringements from a state government is long overdue. The gays got their big win today. When will we (gun owners) get ours?
*Immunities, from Constitution.org:
For the framers of the 14th Amendment the term of art, “immunities”, meant all those rights recognized and protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including those of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The framers of the Fourteenth used the word ‘immunities’ because the rights recognized and protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are rights against action by government, which are “immunities”, as distinct from contractual or tort rights.