Celebrating expanded freedom on this year’s Fourth of July

Opinion July 3, 2013 1 Comment

by Pete Mazzaccaro

It’s easy on the 4th of July to comment on freedom and how so many of us take that freedom for granted. In the back of our minds, when we’re not busy with the usual distractions of work, family or Facebook, we know this to be true.

And in the news, one doesn’t have to look far for a reminder of that. Just look at the continuing unrest in the Middle East, from fresh uprisings in Egypt and Turkey to war in Syria. Yeah, we do have it good here compared to the rest of the world. We can say and write nearly anything we want (even if it gets monitored and stored in a server farm by the National Security Agency).

One thing we don’t always see is how some of the freedoms we take for granted are those that are not evenly distributed among all U.S. citizens.

Last week was a true milestone for such freedoms when several significant rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court took us a lot closer to ensuring the freedom for all U.S. citizens to marry whom they choose.

First was the decision by the court that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. That act, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, meant that same-sex couples were not entitled to federal benefits. The law also allowed states to refuse to recognize as legal any same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

Second was the ruling affirming that California’s Proposition 8 – a state constitutional amendment that outlawed same sex marriage that was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in 2010 and appealed – was in fact unconstitutional.

This is not only good news for same sex couples looking for equal protection under the law, but also for all Americans.

In a country that celebrates freedom above everything else, it was always remarkable to me that we’d tolerate any laws that restrict freedoms, particularly the freedom to marry those we love. Any constitutional amendment that would outlaw same sex marriage, in my mind, would make the document a work of great hypocrisy.

Some might argue that a legal endorsement of marriage infringes on the religious practices and attitudes of those who believe same sex relationships are a sin. With all due respect to those who feel that way, the law of this land is not about religious attitudes.

The Supreme Court’s rulings last week were a welcome endorsement of freedom and a great step forward. I hope we’ll never again have to entertain the question of whether same sex couples have the right to marry.

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  • Darryl Hart

    Peter, surely your love of freedom has got the better of your logic. You love your kids. I read your columns. You can’t marry them. Is that a restriction on your freedom? I lived in England. I love driving on the left side of the road. Does that mean I am less free when I can’t drive on the left in the U.S.?

    We don’t have unfettered liberty. Never have. Never will. If you can’t tell when it is appropriate to limit freedoms, you may not understand the concept.