What a day Friday was for freedom and equality?! The Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled it’s illegal to make same-sex marriage illegal, thereby forever ending our major gay-policy debate.
“The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. Those civil consequences — and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences — can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws.”
In issuing their ruling, the five justices who joined in the majority opinion gave liberals the thing for which they’ve long clamored, and sent many evangelical conservatives on a prayer binge for the ages.
Four of the nine justices predictably dissented.
“The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. … There are untold references to the beauty of marriage in religious and philosophical texts spanning time, cultures, and faiths, as well as in art and literature in all their forms. It is fair and necessary to say these references were based on the understanding that marriage is a union between two persons of the opposite sex.”
What did you think of the opinions? Did you find any of them particularly well thought out or convincing? Did any of the justices change your mind a little bit on the issue?
I mean, I assume you read them, right? In our highly educated and immensely wealthy society, where the common man has the ability to dive inside the top legal minds in the country and gain a better understanding of the laws that define our daily existence, why would you not?
It costs nothing to take perhaps an hour — Like an episode of "The Bachelorette"! — to inform ourselves on this or any other issue of supremely decided jurisprudence.
So surely, all those people waving rainbow flags on the steps of county courthouses and posting things to Facebook about their adulation for our nation’s highest court read the legal opinion they so admire?
And obviously, those who took to Twitter to decry the onset of a moral dark age in the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision — those who will sit in church this morning, wondering where it all went wrong — obviously, those people took a few minutes to gestate the Court’s 28-page opinion, picking apart the majority’s justifications over the equivalent length of a "Harry Potter" chapter.
Well, if they did, they would know the second paragraph of this column comes from the Obergefell dissent — a much-maligned-in-the-media screed on states' rights and constitutional originalism penned by Justice Antonin Scalia.
Of course, they’d also know that the other italicized paragraph above — the one defining the historical definition of marriage as between a man and a woman — was written by Anthony Kennedy in the Court’s prevailing opinion disallowing any state from prohibiting gay marriage.
Again, I’m sure I’m just stating the obvious. Because unlike legislative and executive decisions, which are seemingly coined in the moment to sate a particular political whim — decisions that are expressly partisan and so open to questioning they might as well be Oscar nominations — unlike those decisions, Supreme Court decisions have a much higher threshold of informed debate.
And if there’s anything I’ve noticed about American political discourse, in general, and the expression of that discourse online, in particular, it’s that people almost always take the time to research their positions before taking a stand on one side or the other.
At least, I assume that’s the case, since everyone seems so darned certain they’re right. And since I know none of my Twitter follows is smart enough to be on the Supreme Court — Sorry, Weird Al Yankovic; it’s just an assumption! — I have to assume most people would at least take the time to read what the Supreme Justices of the nation’s highest court had to say before spouting off.
Nate Strauch is a columnist and reporter with the Herald Democrat. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NStrauchHD.