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Same-sex marriage equality is a national prerogative, not for states to contest

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Today, the United States Supreme Court will hear same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court will decide if bans on gay marriage are constitutional and whether the Constitution requires states to recognize valid same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The legalization of gay marriage in the United States has been held over the back burner for the last two years as the Supreme Court has denied hearing such cases; however, the court's actions today may have a galvanizing effect on a response that is long overdue.

Same-sex marriage should be a constitutionally protected right under federal law, and the decision whether same-sex couples can marry should not be left up to the states, whose individual, unique belief systems can alienate LGBTQ and minority individuals.

Although the opposing argument - that people should be able to define marriage how they wish based on their belief systems or personal opinions - is legitimate, same-sex marriage is a human rights issue, one that should be protected by law.

Same-sex marriage is a moral right that should not change from one state to the next.

As of today, several states have legalized same-sex marriage, while others, including Ohio, have upheld bans. However, a geographical difference on gay marriage does nothing but sectionalize the United States. It is intolerable that a same-sex couple can be legally married in New York, but if they were to move to Ohio, that same marriage would go unacknowledged by the state.

This seems arbitrary. The United States Constitution prevents states from prohibiting interracial marriages. Why does this not apply to same-sex marriage as well?

Today is another stepping stone in the strive for marriage equality. If the court rules that the marriage bans in the 14 remaining states are unconstitutional, marriage equality will be the law of the land.

Despite potential shifts in federal law, churches will still have the option to turn away same-sex couples. The definition of marriage in a religious context is not the matter up for debate. What is up for debate is the definition of marriage under the law.

There is no justification, legal or otherwise, as to why same-sex marriage should not be possible for any couple who wishes to wed. In fact, the opposite stands.

Thomas Jefferson's proposition of a separation of church and state has been a constant throughout the history of the United States. Individuals can be married under the law, but the state does not recognize marriage by a religious institution alone. They must first obtain a marriage license from the government.

The right for individuals to marry who they love is an inalienable right - the pursuit of happiness. To deny someone this right is to deny them everything that Americans believe to be wholesome, just and entrenched in their personal freedoms.

The Supreme Court should take into account that this country is the United States of America. The current state of same-sex marriage in the country serves only to alienate a significant demographic of fellow Americans.