Lawrence vs. Texas
This case resulted from Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner being found in an apartment engaging in homosexuality after a neighbor called on the police claiming a black man was using a gun on September 17th 1998. The sheriff’s deputies stormed the apartment in Houston, Texas and arrested the two males even after failing to find the gun. Due to the acts Lawrence and Garner were found engaging in, they were charged under Texas law on claims of deviating sexual intercourse also known as anal sex with a member of the same gender. The two challenged the statute, claiming it violated their Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment. This however did not hinder the courts from fining them two hundred dollars and also ordering that they pay one hundred forty one dollars and twenty five cents in costs. They however filed an a appeal at the Court of Appeals relying on federal constitutional arguments under Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court sat in 2003 favoring the rights and liberties of gays and lesbians. Consequently, several cases with regards to sexual activities among people from the same gender have been heard across the country. They are mainly influenced by Justice Kennedy’s recognition that gays and lesbians should be entitled to equal protection under the law. This discussion will therefore focus on the Obergefell vs. Hodges court case (Lecture Notes 1).
According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, a statute makes it a crime for two people from the same gender to engage in sexual acts as their activities violate the Due Process Clause. The Justice however also recognized that, such activities undertaken in the privacy of participants’ homes should not be challenged through unwarranted and unnecessary government intrusions. This is because they have the right and freedom beyond spatial boundaries presuming the autonomy of self-belief, expression, and intimate conducts especially among adults who engage consensually. The justice therefore laid out rights for Americans to marry based on the belief that, single, married, and individual persons are free from unwarranted government interferences and impositions. Justice Kennedy’s opinion however was not unanimous based on the court ruling with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito. They each authored dissents to form the famous and majority opinions based on the Obergefell vs. Hodges court case with regards to Justice Kennedy’s opinion (Lecture Notes 3).
During the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, the court was required to answer and ascertain two major questions. Foremost, the court had to answer whether States should be allowed and required to license marriages between people from the same sex. Secondly, the court had to ascertain whether the States ought to recognize marriages from other States among gays and lesbians under the Fourteenth Amendment. It was believed the answers to these questions would provide a solution with regards to the Obergefell vs. Hodges court case challenging same sex marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion was developed from arguing on legal and philosophical aspects of marriage, equality, and freedom as well as civil rights. Foremost, Justice Kennedy argued that marriage was a federal rather than State issue. He asserted that, the right to marry is held by the court under the protection of the United States constitution. Thus, same gender marriages ought to be recognized in equal measure as interracial marriages. More so, prisoners are not denied the right to marry. He therefore argued that, excluding same sex marriages does not present substantial federal question rather than a more instructive precedent expressing broader principles as witnessed in the Lawrence vs. Texas court case. Ultimately, Justice Kennedy’s opinion and argument was based on the basic belief and rationale that courts ought to respect the basic reasons prompting people to marry. Consequently, the marriage should be protected by the constitution from unwarranted intrusions by the government (Class Notes 5).
Justice Kennedy also asserted that, marriages are a part of the nation’s traditions, as they are keystones of the social order. States should therefore acknowledge they ought to play the fundamental role of contributing towards developing the characters of marriages. This role should be undertaken and fulfilled by the States ensuring marriages are placed at the center of the several legal and social order facets. This can affirm same and opposite sex marriages are not different with regards to principles protecting the institution of marriage under the constitution. Same sex marriages therefore should not be demeaned, described as intolerable, and denied constellation of benefits States have linked to marriage as they aspire transcendent purposes of a social order. Ultimately, Justice Kennedy’s opinion and argument answered the two questions by affirming same sex marriages should be allowed as they are equally natural and just as opposite sex marriages (Class Notes 6).
Justice Kennedy’s opinion was however put into test during the Obergefell vs. Hodges case when gay rights advocates declared their confidence in his vote in order to win the case. The Obergefell vs. Hodges case challenging same sex marriage bans in several States including Michigan was utilized by Justice Kennedy to affirm the court has failed to amend the definition of marriage that has lasted for millennia. He affirmed that, for millennia marriage has always been recognized as an activity between men and women choosing to live together in order to raise a family. The courts however have failed to consult and regard institution of marriage as a social science in order to rule for same sex marriages. Justice Kennedy asserted that same sex marriages influence children. The courts however should not always assume the marriages adversely affect children without sufficient research prompting legal systems to declare them illegal and sources of social misfits. This led the Supreme Court hearing the Obergefell vs. Hodges case to vote in favor of same sex marriages. This decision however was not supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito (Lecture Notes 7).
Chief Justice John Roberts claimed that, people should believe, obey and trust government based laws rather than regulations formulated by single individuals. This is because relying on majority approach in order to resolve an issue does not promote equality. He therefore asserted that, same sex marriages should not be recognized as they are bound to make dramatic social changes that can be difficult to accept among majority of citizens in the social order. Antonin Scalia on the other hand asserted that, the ruler of the citizens should be the constitution rather than a few selected individuals serving at the Supreme Court. Scalia also emphasized that, constitutional rights promise liberty equally within lawful boundaries in order for people to define and express their identities. Thus, Scalia believed the Supreme Court had descended from applying disciplined legal reasoning to use of mystical aphorisms from fortune cookies by ruling in favor of same sex marriage under the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. Justices Clarence Thomas termed the courts favor for same sex marriage as an odd decision against the constitution and principles through which United States has been built. He claimed that freedom from government actions defines liberty rather than entitlement tot government’s benefits. Thus, the decision of the Supreme Court neither recognized nor understood the notion of liberty as it failed to protect it by favoring same sex marriage under the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. Lastly, Justice Samuel Alito claimed the decision by the Supreme Court was prove that courts have been abusing their authority and attempts to restrain them failed. He therefore urged people to acknowledge that preaching about appropriate methods of interpreting constitutional laws and virtues of judicial self-restraint coupled with humility ought not to compete with temptations to achieve practicable means regarded as noble in the society (Class Notes 9).
On a personal level, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion with regards to the Obergefell vs. Hodges case was thought, reasoned, and convincingly executed, legally. This is because he argued that any form of marriage is a fundamental right provided to everyone and protected by the constitution. He argued this notion under several cases including Romer vs. Evans in 1996 when he asserted that, local governments should not enact laws prohibiting gays and lesbians from marriage. He asserted the laws would inflict on their immediate, continuing and real injuries that should not arise as actions undertaken by gays and lesbians are legitimate and justified under the Equal Protection law. Justice Kennedy also argued the same notion during the Lawrence vs. Texas case by asserting that, relying on State sodomy in order to attack homosexuals should not be allowed as it inflicts on the individuals’ rights to privacy. Justice Kennedy therefore preserved the legal and social order of marriage by asserting that, the institution is legally protected by the constitution in order for both parties to form an intimate and lasting relationship based on consensual terms and conditions.
I therefore believe that lesbians and gays should be allowed to enjoy their fundamental rights. The government and legal systems should acknowledge that, their sexual activities happen in the privacy and comfort of their homes. As a result, they should not be denied the right to marry on the notion that their activities are illegal or socially detrimental to the growth and development of children. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Samuel Alito as well as courts across various States in the country should acknowledge that, parties in the same sex marriage are individuals and citizens who ought to enjoy fundamental civil rights and freedoms protected by the constitution. Since the constitution protects citizens’ rights to privacy and equality, lesbians and gays should be provided with the right of marriage. This is because their sexual and intimate activities are undertaken privately hence, preserving social and legal preservations that are likely to prompt the government to interfere.
In conclusion, courts and people against same sex marriage should acknowledge lesbians and gays are human beings with desires and interests such as the need to love and be loved. Thus, denying them the opportunity to receive love and attention does not preserve nor protect their civil rights and liberties promoting equality. This is because promoting opposite and hindering same sex marriage regards homosexuals’ rights as irrelevant and illegal.
Class Notes. United States v. Windsor 570 U.S (2013), Justice Kennedy Delivered the Opinion of the Court. Class Notes, 2015. Print.
Lecture Notes. Lawrence v. Texas: 539 U.S 558 (2003), Justice Kennedy Delivered the Opinion of the Court. Lecture Notes, 2015. Print.