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Ted Olson and Eric Schneiderman on Marriage Equality

By Wilson Huhn Published: May 18, 2011

Theodore Olson (former Soliciter General under President George W. Bush) and Eric Schneiderman (Attorney General of New York) have authored an editorial in the New York Daily News calling upon the State of New York to extend marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples.

In their op-ed The civil union bait-and-switch: Compromise is far from true marriage equality they reject civil unions - now being offered as a compromise by those opposing same-sex marriage in New York - as unworkable and unfair.  They note that many employers, hospitals, schools and other institutions refuse to treat couples in civil unions the same as married couples, and that laws creating civil unions for gay and lesbian couples has led to confusion as to their status:

A civil union is not a marriage, nor is it an adequate substitute for one. To suggest otherwise is a cruel fiction. Even if all of the inherent confusion and complexities could be resolved and civil unions could somehow provide couples with the same rights and responsibilities of a true marriage, the separation of the two institutions creates a badge of inferiority that forever stigmatizes the relationships of committed same-sex couples as different, separate, unequal and less worthy.

There are people who believe that same-sex relationships are "less worthy" than heterosexual relationships.  But under the Constitution such a belief, in and of itself, is not enough to sustain a law that treats people differently.  The Supreme Court has ruled, time and again, that in order for the law to treat a group of people differently there must be a " real difference" relevant to the legislative context between them and other people - and a moral belief does not constitutute a real difference.  For centuries in our civilization gay and lesbian relationships have been discouraged and subject to sanction - but now this cultural tradition is being challenged.  At the "Prop 8 trial" that Ted Olson helped to litigate the opponents of same-sex marriage were unable to muster any objective evidence to support the traditional prejudice against gay and lesbian couples, while the proponents of equal marriage submitted a massive amount of evidence showing that gay and lesbian couples love each other just as much and are just as good at parenting as opposite-sex couples. 

There is simply no rational reason to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

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