In a decision, much closer than I thought it would be, SCOTUS has reversed the 6th Circuit and made marriage a union between two adults, no matter what their sexual orientation. Showing no faith in the political process, as they exhibited yesterday in King v. Burwell, the majority, spearheaded by Justice Kennedy, made marriage a fundamental right protected by the 14th Amendment.
Using precedents regarding marriage equality (specifically interracial marriage) the Court made it clear that gay couples are entitled to the same protections as any other citizens who are in legally recognized unions. The majority indicated that to do otherwise relegates those couples, and the families they create, to second-class citizenship and the 14th won't tolerate that.
However, it is not complete. The majority, in need of Kennedy's vote, had to agree to language that echoes the Hobby Lobby case. Essentially, if a person can establish that they have a firm religious objection to "same sex marriage" they can refuse to provide services, such as officiating at the wedding, catering, providing use of a venue or bakery (wedding cakes).
This will be interesting in Pasco County, where the clerk has stated that she would issue licenses, but will not let her employees perform the ceremony. However, in the end, being a government office, which can not promote any religious views, the clerk will mostly likely have to back off, at least as to her office. Individual clerk's employees may be able to object. Watch for Pamela Joe to jump on this one for the clerk.
The dissents mostly are rants about the good old days and the historical perspective of marriage. Roberts disappoints with his last paragraph:
"If you are among the many Americans—of whatever
sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate
the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner.
Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not
celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."
Scalia does not disappoint in accusing the majority of hubris born of a mere majority, which, of course is not hubris when they side with him. In essence he stands by his opinion that a provision of the constitution only means what it meant when adopted, and can mean nothing more.
Lastly, Thomas makes his usual remarks. "Our Constitution - like the Declaration of Independence - was predicated upon a simple truth: One's liberty, not to mention one's dignity, was something to shielded from - not provided by - the State" and he predicts doom and gloom for the republic. Guess he forgot that the Constitution provided no dignity for African-Americans until the 13th Amendment gave them freedom and the 14th Equal Protection, which provided him with the opportunity to express HIS dignity.
The country has taken a huge step forward today. One can only hope there will be many more in my lifetime.
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