Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Gay Marriage, the Courts Did Their Job in New Jersey

In the end, no legislation or voter referendum was needed to recognize the inalienable rights of gays to marry in New Jersey.

I left these comments on an article by the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Tom Moran: 

For those of us who advocate liberty, the political trends have generally been going the wrong way, especially in the last couple of decades. The decision by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey, effectively upheld—by way of denying a stay on Judge Jacobson's ruling—by the state Supreme Court, is a welcome exception. 

Though the courts have been majorly complicit in eroding the constitution and individual rights in America, in this gay marriage case they did exactly the right thing. It's a travesty that it took so long, but a proper understanding of individual rights and the role of government would have cleared this up long ago.

Individual rights are moral principles sanctioning the individual's freedom to act in pursuit of his values in a social context, so long as his actions don't infringe on the same rights of others. Rights are not established by legislative or voter fiat. Rights, properly understood, are inalienable; meaning, no legislature or electoral faction may infringe on those rights. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, the constitution's philosophic blueprint, the government's sole purpose is to protect individual rights equally and at all times. The purpose of the constitution is to limit the power of the government to its proper function of protecting individual rights. The courts' proper function is as guardian of the constitution, which means it must invalidate any laws that violate individual rights (and thus the constitution).

Individual rights include the right to freedom of contract among consenting adults of sound mind, so long as the contract doesn't involve the actual or intended violation of the rights of others. Freedom of contract is logically derived from the inalienable right to freedom of association. From a legal perspective, marriage is strictly a contractual matter. Religion has nothing to do with it. A gay marriage contract violates no one else's rights. Therefor, adult gay men and women have an inalienable right, protected by the constitution, to forge marriage contracts. One of the government's jobs as rights-protector is to recognize and enforce contracts, including marriage contracts regardless of gender. For gays, the government didn't protect their rights, so the courts properly stepped in. 

Regrettably, the NJ Superior Court did not ground its decision to legalize gay marriage in an unequivocal defense of individual rights. Rather, it overturned NJ's ban on gay marriage on narrower grounds, equal protection under the law and federal statutes.  Nonetheless, the NJ court decision is a victory for individual rights and thus something for liberty advocates to celebrate.

Related Reading:

New Jersey Court Rightly Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage

Should a “homosexual contract” be called something other than marriage?

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

The courts did the job, partially. The FULL job was grounding their decision on individual rights & egoism, which they didn't do.

Well, adults must be raised from kiddies. These were partially raised. Next time 'round, let's raise kiddies up all the way.