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TU Global: Appeals won’t prevent same-sex marriage

28 March 2014 By Jake Ulick, Columnist No Comments

“Thank You for Smoking” is a comedic and satirical film portraying the contradictory life and logic of one of the smoking industry’s top lobbyists. Nick Naylor’s mantra is evidenced by his belief that “the beauty of argument” is such that “if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.” To be able to speak publically and with conviction on behalf of the industry that kills over 480,000 people a year after having profited off of them takes “moral flexibility” as Naylor says about his job. To be able to spin such lies that fly in the face of common sense and hard evidence like arguing that cigarettes don’t cause cancer does require one to have their bearings on a few truths. And Naylor clearly indicates from early on in the movie that he’s well aware of what harm cigarettes can do and of the irony of his job.

One night, Nick’s son Joey is asking him for help on an essay question: “Dad, why is the American government the best government?” And in such a candid and epically quotable response, Nick says, “Because of our endless appeals system.” His blatant sarcasm implies that the appeals system maybe isn’t the greatest facet of American governance but is surely patriotic and ideal in terms of its inability to dictate right and wrong from what the constitution may have inexplicitly insinuated.

Case in point: This past Friday U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled a 2004 ban on gay marriage in Michigan unconstitutional as has been decided recently in other states such as Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia. So on Saturday, hundreds of same-sex couples took advantage of the opportunity they had to become legally married knowing that appeals would soon be filed to reverse the ruling as has been the case in other states.

And without surprise that’s exactly what happened. Friday afternoon, Michigan’s Attorney General filed an emergency motion to request a stay, or suspension, of Judge Friedman’s ruling against the ban on gay marriage. The sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay, which it says will last until Wednesday, because there hadn’t been enough time to consider Michigan’s appeal of the ruling against the ban.

The stay leaves those couples who were issued same-sex marriage licenses in a legal gray area with the state of Michigan in the position to not recognize them while appeals are being considered. Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette pointed out that the ruling runs contrary to his state’s constitution, that it doesn’t align with the precedents set in other cases and cited that 59 percent of voters were in favor of the ban in the first place. He argued that Michigan’s voters acted on the premise that same-sex parenting would have a negative impact on children of these couples, which many experts have in fact concluded is false.

The result of these constitutionally rationalized and “what about the children” appeals to the turnover of the ban will only be more court cases. The Supreme Court and other district courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. These appeals may postpone same-sex marriage’s permanent legalization, but they have no staying power against the changing tide in judicial and public opinion.

I’m sorry if I wasted your time rambling about the tobacco lobbying effort and the U.S appeals system and gay marriage in Michigan. But maybe in the near future our elected officials won’t have to waste so much of their time that could be utilized to enact positive change for all of us on an issue that’s not appropriate for the constitution or other people to debate in the first place. I understand that legal change can only happen with formal rituals and proceedings and the signing of multiple documents, which doesn’t all happen overnight. But the sooner the better, to say we have more pressing issues at hand is an understatement.



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