“Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.” – James Madison (1789)
The United States Supreme Court issued two major decisions this week. The first of these once again upheld the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. I previously wrote about the ACA three years ago and my feelings remain pretty much the same. So feel free to go to that blog post for my opinions concerning that issue.
The other decision arrived at by the Supreme Court, via a 5 to 4 vote, was to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. The four liberal and four conservative justices all voted as expected, with the deciding vote cast by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In cases such as these, where the Court has been split down ideological lines, Kennedy has often (but not always) been the deciding vote. Kennedy is something of a moderate Conservative, so it sometimes can be difficult to predict which way his swing vote will go. There was a great deal of speculation as to whether, in voting in this case, Kennedy would maintain his long-held belief in the importance of gay rights, or if he would decide that this was an issue left up to the individual states.
In the end, Kennedy decided in favor of same-sex marriage, and he wrote the majority opinion.
With the 2016 race for the Presidency already under way (and, oh man, the election is over a year away and I’m already getting burned out by all of this nonsense) I fully expect that this is going to become yet another major issue. I’m sure that most of the Republican candidates (how many are we up to at this point?) are already using the Court’s ruling on gay marriage to forecast gloom & doom, fire & brimstone retribution from the Almighty, and the imminent collapse of civilization as we know it.
You know what? To hell with them and their hate-mongering.
Honestly, why does it matter if gay people marry? To anyone who genuinely believes that homosexuality is a sin, I ask you this: how exactly does it affect your life if two total strangers who happen to be gay choose to get married? If you disapprove, well, fine. You are entitled to your personal opinions. There are plenty of things in this world that I believe are immoral. But I do not go around legislating my beliefs.
If two people, two consenting adults, love one another, then why should they not be able to get married? How is it anyone else’s business?
In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy states:
“The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”
Despite what some will claim, marriage is a civil institution, not a religious one. If you want to be married legally, it must be officiated by a justice of the peace or some other agent of the state. The Court’s ruling is not going to suddenly force priests and rabbis to conduct gay marriages in their churches and synagogues. I expect that most gay couples are just going to head down to City Hall and tie the knot there. So, no, this is not going to impose upon your religious rights.
Honestly, this is a country that is supposed to have separation of church and state. All the attempts to make gay marriage illegal purely on the basis of faith are a prime example of why religion and politics should not become intertwined.
I find it ironic that the Republican Party of the 21st Century, the so-called “party of small government,” is so often expanding government intrusion into people’s personal lives, deciding who can and cannot marry, passing judgment on sexual behavior, interfering in the decisions that should be made between a patient and a doctor, and so on. It seems to me that their idea of “small government” is allowing Big Business to operate in the most reckless manner with absolutely no oversight or restraint, while at the same time prying into the private affairs of citizens in order to appease the Religious Right whose votes they so desperately court.
Besides, I am sick of watching bigots cherry-pick Bible verses to justify their intolerance, forcing their narrow-minded views on the whole of society. This is why I wholeheartedly believe that faith should be a personal matter.
There are so many problems facing the United States: massive income inequality, unemployment, racism, sexism, inadequate access to medical care, pollution, climate change, terrorism and global political instability. Those are the issues we need to be worried about, not gay marriage.
I have met gay couples who have been together for many years, who have healthy & stable relationships. And I have met heterosexual couples who simply have no business being married, who have gotten to the point where they hate each other’s guts, and a divorce is probably the only things that is going to keep them from killing one another. Heterosexuality is absolutely no guarantee that a marriage will work.
My congratulations to the LGBT community on their victory today. I hope that there be further progress made in obtaining equal protection under the law in the near future.