In a sweeping, controversial, landmark, [other superlatives] decision, the Supreme Court has struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage. Some are celebrating. Some are waiting for the brimstone. I don’t know if anyone is all that surprised.
The majority opinion, written by Anthony Kennedy with the support of Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Breyer, employs some lofty sentiments and high-wrought language, but it is ultimately nothing more than a glorified pat on its own back. We should all be so proud of ourselves for being so progressive, so tolerant, so filled with love, etc.
[From page 8] From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals [Was this really the best word choice, Justice Kennedy?] of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. . . .
[From page 9] Were their [same-sex marriage petitioners] intent to demean the revered idea and reality of marriage, the petitioners’ claims would be of a different order. But that is neither their purpose nor their submission. To the contrary, it is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions. This, they say, is their whole point. Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment
Yes. Now I understand. They want to fundamentally redefine marriage because of their deep respect for it. Why didn’t I understand that before? And did he just say that homosexuals have an immutable nature? Wow. I never realized they were God.
The dissenting opinion, written by John Roberts with the support of Alito, Scalia, and Thomas, is more measured in its language and ideas. And it points out one of the most glaring fundamental problems with this decision: it circumvented what had been a successful democratic process.
[From page 41] Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not. The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition. Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.
Exactly. Public opinion cannot be legislated. How many times have we heard that you can’t “legislate morality”? Yet, the Supreme Court thinks it can legislate immorality. This is a recipe for even more social unrest (as if we didn’t have enough of that). Just look at the polarized responses that have ben generated by this single decision. If proponents of same-sex marriage had achieved “marriage equality” in the country by convincing lawmakers and citizens of each individual state one at a time, we wouldn’t have seen the same backlash against same-sex marriage. If proponents of same-sex marriage had worked to change minds through dialogue and relationships, they could have continued to swing public opinion in their favor.
That ended today. By forcing their opinion on the entire nation by force of law, same-sex marriage activists have officially embittered and embattled their opponents. And that is a shame. This dialogue is over. This conversation is over. Five lawyers told us all, “Be quiet now. The adults are talking.”
What will this decision actually mean? I don’t know. Justice Kennedy says that opponents of same-sex marriage will continue to be free to oppose same-sex marriage personally and individually:
[From page 32] Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.
Frankly, those are empty words. Even before this decision, opponents of same-sex marriage have been systematically fined, persecuted, punished, mocked, ostracized, and silenced. Justice Kennedy thinks that will be reversed now? Hardly. That situation will only become worse. And worse.
This was a foolhardy, presumptuous, destructive, arrogant, self-serving [other superlatives] decision. Not so much because of what it decided concerning same-sex marriage. I don’t like that either. But I’m far more concerned about what this decision has done to stifle the democratic process. It has further polarized an already polarized society. It’s mischief. By decree.