When the Supreme Court recently handed down its decision that marriage equality was the law in all the states, I was slightly surprised. I thought it would be 5-4 the other way.
Anyone who knew the subject had an opinion. They ranged from ecstatic to seething.
This may sound corny to you, but I feel bad for those who are having difficulty with the decision.
Here is an example of what I mean. A woman named Dana Guffey, a county clerk in Arkansas, promised to resign from her post because she would rather quit than issue same-sex marriage licenses.
She is an adult and it is her decision. I respect her integrity. She is standing up for what she believes at risk of future unemployment. But I really wish she was able to logic around her disagreements and stay at her job.
I bet there are millions of Americans who feel just as put out as Ms. Guffey does. It is not for me to tell anyone about their beliefs. I feel bad for anyone who thinks that their faith has been diminished or disrespected by the Supreme Court’s decision.
Imagine if the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967 had not gone in favor of striking down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Think of how let down and inherently wronged you would feel — that’s where a lot of people are with Obergefell v. Hodges.
Justice Thomas voted against. I read his dissent in full. A fascinating and somewhat disturbing view into the man’s intellect and rationale, it reads like a 5,500-word steep uphill run, disagreeing not only with the majority but also with the burden of this decision being thrust upon the high court in the first place.
His logic, from what my layman’s mind can understand, is that the majority cannot prove that making marriage equality the law of the land does not infringe upon the powers the states have under the 10th Amendment, or does anything positive for anyone:
“To invoke the protection of the Due Process Clause at all — whether under a theory of ‘substantive’ or ‘procedural’ due process — a party must first identify a deprivation of ‘life, liberty, or property.’ The majority claims these state laws deprive petitioners of ‘liberty,’ but the concept of ‘liberty’ it conjures up bears no resemblance to any plausible meaning of that word as it is used in the Due Process Clause.”
It is interesting that in the middle of such rigidity, he uses the word “conjures,” which seems so emotional and speculative. I am sorry that he doesn’t see American liberty as including the freedom to marry the person you’re in love with. He seems underwhelmed, or perhaps intimidated, by the concept of liberty. He is deeply unhappy with his five fellow justices.
Justice Thomas calls out the majority for having a gross misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment. He writes, in part:
“[T]he majority clearly uses equal protection only to shore up its substantive due process analysis, an analysis both based on an imaginary constitutional protection and revisionist view of our history and tradition.”
He’s the scholar, but I think the first part of the 14th Amendment is exquisitely written, crystal clear and has no imaginary aspect to it. I always thought that the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments ended the marriage-equality debate smartly and made all established laws against it textbook definitions of unconstitutional.
Unsurprisingly, Justice Thomas sees no similarities between his pro–“traditional marriage” stance and the anti-miscegenation laws struck down by Loving v. Virginia: “Laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman do not share this sordid history.”
He and I do agree that bit of America’s past is indeed sordid. But I think they do share the exact same history.
What if Ms. Guffey had been a clerk when mixed-race marriages became legal and she resigned over that? Would I still respect her decision? I would pity her miserable ignorance, but I would have respected the fact that she came in through the front door with her bigotry and understood that acting on it while on the job had no place as a government employee.
I am hoping that, in time, Obergefell v. Hodges will be seen in the same way as Loving v. Virginia — inevitable and a sign of social evolution in America.
I bet two people of the same sex who want to get married don’t think they are going to have a “gay wedding.” By wanting to get married in the first place, they show their dedication both to each other and to tradition. Wanting to get married is a freakin’ billboard for normality and inclusion.
I wish the “You lost! Deal with it!” talk would stop. I can understand where it comes from but it doesn’t make anything better.
There were no losers, in my opinion. To those who disagree with same-sex marriage because it offends their faith, I would say your beliefs are still yours to have. The wisdom, peace and clarity that faith has allowed you to have are still intact. No word of any religious text has been changed or its power reduced. There is a lot of room in America; it allows all to move freely.
All the wedding photographs popping up on the Internet should be enough to convince anyone that this was a great decision. Take Jack Evans and George Harris, for example — together for 54 years, in Texas of all places, finally able to get hitched.
I am looking at them now. The skies have not darkened with locusts and tomorrow there will be traffic. I do believe we will be OK.
Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.