Friday’s Supreme Court ruling made it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right of a person to marry another person, and that those people’s sex and gender have no bearing on that right. I’ve seen a lot of people congratulating their friends whose relationships now must be legally recognized by the entire U.S., and I join in that sentiment wholeheartedly. But this isn’t just a win for same-sex couples and their kids; it’s a win for everyone.
We generally avoid political topics here on GeekDad. But this is fundamentally a question of human rights, not politics, just as advocating vaccinations for all children is fundamentally about science. Here, then, are the five most important reasons why this ruling is good for all American families:
5. It’s a major positive historic event.
So many historic events are unambiguously terrible: wars, mass killings, natural disasters, and major accidents chief among them. It’s wonderfully refreshing to witness an unambiguously excellent historic event for a change. I’m so glad my kids will have this to remember, as a bit of an antidote to the many negative events that will surely happen in their lifetime. And I’m thrilled to know I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, too.
4. Our children will be able to love, and be loved by, whomever they want to.
I used to think that the only reason I might not be happy if one or both of my kids fell in love with someone of the same sex is that I don’t want their lives to be any harder than necessary. This Supreme Court ruling is a huge step towards easing the extra burden society has historically placed on people whose love doesn’t follow “conventional” rules.
3. The foundation of every marriage is strengthened.
Some part of me has always felt a little bit guilty about being married, because I was availing myself of a privilege that was unfairly denied to others. Now that marriage is a legal right, every marriage — regardless of the sex of the people involved — is that much stronger. A foundation of rights is always sturdier than a foundation of privileges.
2. The connotation of the word “marriage” is changed.
My kids are old enough that for the rest of their lives, somewhere in their minds, there will still be the memory of when the word “marriage” had to be qualified when it referred to the union of two people who happened to be the same sex. But my grandchildren will have no such memory; they will have no concept of “marriage” as anything other than two people promising to love one another for the rest of their lives — qualifying it won’t even make sense.
1. Every step towards true equality improves the U.S. for everyone.
A lot of the arguments I’ve seen against the decision the Supreme Court has handed down are predicated on the idea that civil rights are a zero-sum game. But the opposite is true: When anyone’s rights are strengthened, everyone’s rights are strengthened. The fact that everyone in this country has the same right to get married as I do, when less than a week ago that wasn’t the case, takes America closer to the ideal on which it was founded. Some 239 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote of “the pursuit of Happiness” as a right fundamental to humankind, and as of this past Friday we are one step closer to living in an America that truly follows through on his words. Take a minute this coming Saturday as you watch the fireworks to reflect on that.