Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Decision To Be Proud Of

“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.” – Justice Anthony Kennedy writing on behalf of the majority in Obergefell v. Hodges. Decision rendered June 26, 2015.

 Indeed.   The decision by the Supreme Court to affirm same sex couples the rights to be equal in terms of marriage is a watershed moment in the growth of our nation toward that "more perfect union" described in the preamble to our Constitution.  This is what I love about our country.   We move forward.  It's hard generally to see us get better, and certainly we see evidence of regression that informs us we have much work to do.  But, in this case, we can all hold our heads up a little bit more and be satisfied that while it has taken some time, we have finally recognized that same sex couples in this country shouldn't be relegated to second class status with regards to the right to marry the person that they love.

I've found it difficult  to understand the arguments against marriage equality from a rationale perspective.  I get the emotional objection that is typically driven from some theological perspective but have never understood or bought into the claim that by allowing same-sex couples the right to marry it would somehow "destroy the sanctity of marriage".  To my point of view this is simply nonsense.  It's like when we were boys telling girls they couldn't play football or baseball with us on the sandlot because they were girls.  

The ruling by the court which affirmed the right to marry was a 5-4 decision with Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote on the decision.  It's a a point of interest to me that Justice Kennedy has been on the right side of this issue since his appoint to the Court.  The first opinion he wrote as a new justice was on this issue, and with every single movement forward towards granting same sex people equal protection under the law, he has been the deciding vote on the matter.   So, kudos to Justice Kennedy, and of course to the other justices who saw the logic in throwing the arcane idea that somehow marriage is defined as between one man and one woman into the dustbin of history.  It goes there along with the notion of arranged marriage between the parents of children for economic purposes.  It goes there along with the Old Testament (and recent religious organization's) support of polygamy.  It goes there with the admonition of New Testament perspective that a wife is not equal to a husband and must submit to him.  It goes there with the repugnant notion that women shouldn't own property, vote, or be able to divorce.  

Marriage is an important commitment that people should take seriously.  Most people do.  We also know that marriage provides benefits that until yesterday's decision, same sex couples could not enjoy in certain states and from the Federal Government at large.  Now, same sex couples don't have to worry about survivor's benefits, or be barred from making decisions for their spouse should they be incapacitated by a health issue.   The ability to take care of the people we love in times of great pain or illness is vitally important and this decision has paved the way for that prohibition to be negated.  

The movement toward enlightenment and achievement of those lofty goals outlined in the Constitution has progressed significantly.  We have a long way to go as a country, but we continue to see examples such as this and it fuels the idea that we can indeed make the place better than we found it.  I'm glad also, that it was a conservative justice who wrote this decision for the majority.  Mr. Kennedy's no wild eyed liberal (like me), and perhaps it will make those who opposed this decision stop and think for a moment.  We've become much too partisan in our views on issues such as this.  The detractors and opponents of marriage equality are already screaming from the roof-tops about "Judicial Activism",  and an Imperial Presidency that is colluding with the court for legacy purposes.  Declared Presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and others have come out with positions that suggest Constitutional Amendments to overturn the decision.  Governors, judges, attorneys general from several states have already made statements of willful disobedience to the decision.   Religious "leaders" like Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and others have suggested that God will smite us with punishment for this terrible decision.    Of course, we live in a country where one can disagree with the government and can by virtue of Constitutional protections that were affirmed by earlier "Judicial Activists" say what they want without fear of governmental reprisal.  That's the beauty and genius of this 230 year old experiment in democracy.  We can voice our support or opposition without fear of being thrown in prison or killed outright by our government.  

We made a great stride as a country and a community on Friday.  Winston Churchill once said when discussing the Americans finally joining the fight during World War II: "The Americans will always do the right thing...after they have exhausted all the alternatives".   We did the right thing yesterday.  Let's keep it up.

I'm proud of this country and it's growth.  

Tell me what you think.



  1. I don't know, Dennis. Can't quite get caught up in the celebration. I think where the majority erred here is not so much on the merits, but in judicial trampling of states rights. Certainly, the Federal Government can extend Federal benefits to whomever they wish. The court went further than that.
    Where I get concerned is that the proponents, who have managed to define a protected class and frame this as an "equality" issue, will now try to use this decision as precedent to force institutions to accept the new morality. Trying, for instance, to revoke the tax exempt status of a church which will not perform a marriage that is against their beliefs.

    1. I don't believe that a right, and I think the ability of two consenting adults to marry is a right is something that has to be parsed out among states and their various perspective. I don't think a couple (whether heterosexual or homosexual or interracial is any less married in Texas than in Connecticut. Sometimes we have to look at these issues in the context of the country versus state by state because it puts an undue burden on people if something like marriage is considered to be decided on the whim of people in one location. How far does it go? Does a city have the right to say that gay marriage is illegal in a State that says that is is? I also disagree the court has created a "protected class". Married people already are a protected class when the state considers things like property rights, tax levies, etc. So, same sex couples who get married aren't creating a "new" class, just joining one that currently exists. Also, I take issue with the idea that the government is forcing institutions to accept a new morality. Marriage is an evolving institution. It wasn't that long ago women had no property rights or power of attorney relative to their marriage's assets. Additionally, it wasn't that long ago that women couldn't file for divorce through no-fault laws. As society evolves, and the data is overwhelmingly in support of the evolution of acceptance of same-sex marriage, then we will always place new factors on past traditions. The government hasn't done this. The people have. Finally, the idea of revoking the tax exempt status of a church that doesn't perform a marriage against their belief is a strawman argument. There have been many, many reasons in the past for revoking tax exempt status of churches well before this issue came up and it hasn't happened. I think the notion of anyone doing this is highly unlikely as it would be political suicide for a lawmaker to offer such legislation.