SALT LAKE CITY – The Supreme Court on July 18 ruled in favor of Utah, for the second time in seven months, on the state’s legal efforts to preserve its definition of marriage. It’s worth dwelling for a moment on the significance of this ruling, which halted recognition of same-sex marriages effected by a federal district court.
The issue here is whether the U.S. Constitution imposes a requirement upon states to institute same-sex marriage. Questions about the definition of marriage have gotten entangled with the right to liberty for practices that must remain beyond the realm of government power.
There is a widespread presumption – among those often referred to as the nation’s cultural elite – that nationwide recognition of gay marriage is somehow inevitable. I don’t share that view. The court’s precedents support the view that marriage is an intrinsic power of state government. Changing a core aspect of marriage cannot be forced upon a state under the guise of the 14th Amendment. That amendment bars states from “abridging the privileges or immunities” of citizenship, depriving its subjects of liberty “without due process of law,” or denying “equal protection of the laws.”