There is no silver lining.
Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s two rulings that effectively promoted homosexual “marriages,” one struggles in vain to find any good news in the constitutional wreckage. In effect, courts have redefined the word “marriage” unilaterally - against all tradition, against the dictionary, against constitutional sense, against most faiths, and against the duly expressed will (so far) of the people.
Indeed, only through procedural sleight-of-hand did the Supreme Court avoid what may well have amounted to a blanket imposition of homosexual marriage nationwide. (By a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the proponents of a successful California initiative in favor of traditional man-woman marriage have no legal “standing” to defend the law if state officials choose not to defend it. Because of lower court rulings, this means the initiative is thrown out in California, but it also means that the ruling applies only to California rather than to the entire country.) The result of the two rulings together is somewhat of a legal muddle, but fairly clear in practical terms.
What is clear is this: Those who wish to protect traditional marriage are now officially disfavored in federal court and, worse, in effect accused of bigotry by the highest court in the land.
Wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the high court’s slim majority: “What the State of New York treats as alike [traditional marriages and same-sex arrangements] the federal law deems unlike by a law designed to injure the same class the State seeks to protect.”
Note the assumption there: Rather than seeing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a positive effort to protect both traditional marriage and federal taxpayers, Justice Kennedy treats DOMA exclusively as a mean-spirited attempt to hurt others. In other passages, Justice Kennedy writes that DOMA’s very purpose is “to impose restrictions and disabilities” and that it reflects “a congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group.” Bad motives are impugned to DOMA’s supporters (“to impose a disability..., a stigma”), without regard to the reality that most who defend the old ways do so because we see traditional marriage as a moral and practical good.
Alas, it was left to the Supreme Court’s minority, not its majority, to explain the patently obvious reality that the purpose of DOMA was not to “codify malice.” As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in dissent, “[T]o defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions.”
Scalia also fought back against the majority’s expansion of the judiciary’s power over that of the legislature while the majority effectively accused the legislature of bigotry: “It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”
In truth, as I have argued elsewhere, the defense of marriage is both a recognition of the unique procreative nature of traditional families and a recognition of the “complementarity of men and women” so as to use it as “a building block of stable societies.” (Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center likewise wrote on July 1 that “Consistent with the understanding that nearly all humans have had throughout nearly all of human history, I regard male-female complementarity as intrinsic to marriage.”)
These are all positive goals, with not a single mean-spirited or bigoted aspect to them. But now a majority of the Supreme Court has, in just a few sentences, written these positive goals out of polite society. In terms of law, morality, faith, and even common courtesy, this is a tragic occurrence. If millennia of human history (not to mention revealed faith) can be so contemptuously dismissed as nothing other than sheer hatefulness, then not only marriage but basic civility is burned into an ash heap.
The audacity and hubris of the Supreme Court’s majority is astonishing, and inexcusable. It is traditionalists, not same-sex couples, who now have been unfairly demeaned and maligned, under the supposed cover of what now must be treated as fundamental U.S. law. The stark reality is that crucial goods have now been lost, with little obvious way to regain them.
About the Contributor
Quin Hillyer is a Senior Fellow for The Center for Individual Freedom, a Senior Editor for the American Spectator magazine, and a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mobile. He has won mainstream awards for journalistic excellence at the local, state, regional and national levels. He has been published professionally in well over 50 publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, Investors Business Daily, National Review, the Weekly Standard, Human Events, and The New Republic Online. He is a former editorial writer and columnist for the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Mobile Register, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and a former Managing Editor of Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. He has appeared dozens of times as a television analyst in Washington DC, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and as a guest many hundreds of times on national and local radio shows.
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the official views of the University of Mobile and internal web links do not imply, nor should they be understood as, endorsements of those linked sites. The University of Mobile does not endorse political candidates or political organizations.