“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.
It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.
They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered. “-Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority
By Doug Porter
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Friday morning was a historic victory for gay rights. The majority said the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live.
This decision is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion, just as he did in three other major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.
The ruling immediately effects the 14 states in the South and Midwest with bans on same sex marriage in place. The other 36 states have already eliminated their bans through legislative action, court rulings and initiatives.
As is true with any major shift in the political and social landscape, there are winners and losers. Today we’ll look at some of those reactions, starting with the Twitterverse:
City Councilman Todd Gloria
— Todd Gloria (@ToddGloria) June 26, 2015
Bryan “homosexuality was at the heart of Nazism” Fischer
From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is now our 9/11.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) June 26, 2015
At right-wing Drudge News, they were obviously apoplectic:
President Obama issued a statement in response to the ruling:
…This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well…
Democratic candidates for President in 2016 were also supportive. Hillary Clinton responded via Twitter
Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality—& the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible. -H — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 26, 2015
Bernie Sanders issued a statement from his Senate office:
“Today the Supreme Court fulfilled the words engraved upon its building: ‘Equal justice under law.’ This decision is a victory for same-sex couples across our country as well as all those seeking to live in a nation where every citizen is afforded equal rights. For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people.”
Responses on the GOP side of the aisle ranged from rage to tsk-tsking.
Let’s set the stage here, from The Hill:
That partisan divide could complicate the calculus for Republicans ahead of the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has already incorporated the issue into her campaign, which she launched with a video that included a brief appearance by a same-sex couple.
But every GOP candidate has spoken out against granting a national right to same-sex marriage, so all eyes will be on how the party reconciles that stance with the court decision.
The party and its presidential contenders will have to decide whether to punt on the issue and remove it from the electoral conversation, or to dig in and fight back with a proposal for a constitutional amendment to overrule the court, as Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) have supported.
Many of the GOP presidential candidates framed their reactions as part of what conservatives are calling a war on religious freedom.
Mike Huckabee was the angriest:
“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do — redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch… The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity.”
Scott Walker called for a constitutional amendment:
“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake… As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”
Carly Fiorina stressed the religious angle:
“I do not agree that the Court can or should redefine marriage… Moving forward, however, all of our effort should be focused on protecting the religious liberties and freedom of conscience for those Americans that profoundly disagree with today’s decision.”
Each of the Supreme Court justices opposed to the decision issued their own dissent.
Justice Scalia’s was the angriest as we see in this excerpt from Talking Points Memo:
Justice Antonin Scalia accused the five-justice majority of “constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine.”
“So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me,” Scalia wrote. “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
Calling the Supreme Court a “strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval,” he decried the fact that all nine justices were all Harvard or Yale educated, mostly from the East Coast, and lacking in a Evangelical Christian or Protestant.
“These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry.” he said, “And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.”
Justice Thomas seemed to be saying this case was much ado about nothing.
The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Justice Alito sees the ruling as the basis for persecution of non-gays in his future:.
It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.
I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.
Donald Trump is so intellectually challenged that he called out Justice Roberts, who actually voted with the minority:
Once again the Bush appointed Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has let us down. Jeb pushed him hard! Remember!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2015
Here’s a snip from Justice Roberts’ dissent:
As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?
A Great Day for the United States
There have been a flood of statements issued by organizations supportive of same sex marriage.
Here’s a snip of a good one from the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial counties:
Before today’s decision, there was a patchwork of relationship protections across the country. Thirty-sixstates and Washington, D.C. allowed same-sex couples to marry; thirteen states refused. The ACLU argues that America shouldn’t have different rules for something so fundamentally important as marriage.
Marriage is about love and commitment. Same-sex couples make the commitment at the core of marriage, and they should also get the protections and respect that come with marriage.
And today, as members of the LGBT community and as allies, we celebrate a tremendous step forward in realizing the vision and values embodied in our precious Constitution and Bill of Rights.
On This Day: 1819 – The bicycle was patented by W.K. Clarkson, Jr. 1894 – Members of the American Railway Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, refuse to handle Pullman cars, in solidarity with Pullman strikers. Two dozen strikers were killed over the course of the strike. 1977 – Elvis Presley’s final concert took place at Market Square Arena, Indianapolis.
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