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A Victimless Crime

The legislature should support recent court decision on gay marriage

By Michael A. Feldstein

Homosexual rights in America are climbing up a very slippery slope. The US Supreme Court’s decision ruling against sodomy laws and, more recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage have been two major steps in the direction of equality of sexuality. These rulings have sparked the anger of the conservative right against both the Supreme Court and the Massachusetts rulings.

The Massachusetts legislature was quick to respond. Tomorrow, it will convene to decide whether or not to amend the state constitution, limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This, of course, would effectively nullify the recent decision.

So to those Massachusetts legislators out there, I have a few questions—who stands to benefit from such an amendment? Is this a paternalistic piece of legislation, meant to save the souls of those whose liberty it curtails? Is this a semantic argument? Perhaps Webster has the final say as to who can marry. Must we call homosexual marriages something else? Maybe it’s a piece of legislation meant to preserve the morality of the state.

If the argument is religious, then keep it to the pews of the church, and out of the chambers of the state house.

If deferring to Mr. Webster, then please, by all means, use a different name. As far as I’m concerned, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. However, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, civil unions “would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion that the Constitution prohibits.”

And if you are trying to legislate morality, then you really have some explaining to do.

Of course, the government can base legislation on morality to a certain extent; but the power to legislate morality must end at some point in order to allow personal liberties to begin. I would like to think that in America, we are autonomous at least to the extent that we can determine our own morality so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. Whose rights are violated by homosexual marriage? Homosexual marriage appears to be about as victimless as a “crime” can be.

Most Americans would agree that adultery is immoral (it even has a clear victim), yet no one is considering an amendment to make that illegal. What about pornography? And lying? And if you’re going to legislate morality, why stop at outlawing immoral acts?

There is a reason why we don’t enforce a single conception of morality on our nation: we don’t believe in a totalitarian government.

Of course, our president argues that “marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection is essential to the continued strength of our society.” Yet, we are not asking the church to recognize homosexual marriage; we are asking the state to recognize it. In a country where church and state are separate, how can civil marriage be a “sacred institution?”

Let us hope that the Massachusetts legislature opts for equality of sexuality and not for this amendment.

Michael A. Feldstein ’07, a Crimson editorial comper, lives in Grays.

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