Same-Sex Marriage: No Right to do Wrong

Excerpt:  Abraham Lincoln said during one of his famous debates with Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858, that there is no “right to do wrong” in assessing Douglas’ new law known as “popular sovereignty.”


The law, passed a few years earlier, established a new right for the local populations in the western lands and newly admitted states to decide whether slavery would exist within their borders (before this issue had been handled by the federal government). The United States Supreme Court confirmed the permissibility of this new law in its Dred Scott decision (1857) ruling that the Constitution confers the right to own slaves. The 'popular sovereignty' law and Supreme Court's ruling in Dred Scott thwarted the attempts of those seeking to bring an end to slavery in the United States and threatened the status of the Free states to the North: many of these states had banned slavery since the Founding. Lincoln, in his debates with Douglas, took both the Congress and the Supreme Court to task for creating this new right. Constitutionally, he pointed out the federal government had exercised the authority to exclude slavery from its territories and newly admitted states throughout the entire history of the nation. He added that the federal government was on a firm moral foundation in so doing. The nation's founding document after all, the Declaration of Independence, states most eloquently that all are 'endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.' The government's main purpose is to secure these rights, not establish ones in contraction to them. The Supreme Court of California would have been well served to go back to this foundation and understanding of rights before establishing a new one for same-sex couples to marry. Read More