Earl Warren said it

Published June 30, 2013 4:07 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Although the gay-marriage cases the Supreme Court ruled on allowed narrow rulings that avoided the issue of whether there is a constitutional right for gays to marry, consider the argument the late Chief Justice Earl Warren made in the court's 1967 opinion that declared as unconstitutional state laws that outlawed interracial marriages. Substitute "sexual orientation" for "race" and the same principles seem to apply to gay Americans:

"Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival. … To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the 14th Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.

"The 14th Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State. …

"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification."

Robert Evans


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