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Sunday, October 23, 2016

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of plaintiffs, LGBT activists, and marriage equality throughout the nation Friday morning, determining that same-sex couples have a constitutionally enshrined right to marry each other, and to have that marriage recognized everywhere in the U.S.

The 5-4 majority ruling was authored by moderate-conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the Court’s four liberal Justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

The opinion of the Court, delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that the “right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

There were two questions at issue in Obergefell v. Hodges, which combined four cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in four different states: first, whether the states are required to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples; and second, whether states are required to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Kennedy’s opinion located the ruling in the long history of the evolving nature of marriage. Marriage, Kennedy wrote, “has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time.”

Kennedy wrote further:

The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived.

[…] The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. […] There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.

In an apparent rebuke to arguments that same-sex marriage was harmful to children, the opinion went on:

The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. […] There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the main dissent, in which he maintained that petitioners made “strong arguments rooted in social policy and considerations of fairness,” but that the Court did not have the right to dictate what the laws governing marriage should be:

The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition

[…] Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.

Justice Scalia wrote a separate dissent “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy,” which concluded:

Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. […] With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

When the case was argued before the Supreme Court in April, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked plaintiffs why the Court should try to upend what he characterized as the solidity of marriage, defined for “millennia” as existing between a man and woman.

“It’s very difficult,” Kennedy said at the time, “for the Court to say, ‘Oh well, we know better.’”

Chief Justice John Roberts posited that plaintiffs had been intending to redefine “marriage” rather than join it. He stressed that every definition of the word he had found explicitly indicated that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Justice Samuel Alito raised the issue of polygamy, and Justice Antonin Scalia expressed concern that, if gay marriage became a constitutional right, ministers would lose the right to refuse to officiate ceremonies on religious grounds.

This is the latest in a long line of landmark decisions extending rights to gay Americans, which includes, most recently, Lawrence vs. Texas in 2003, in which the Court found that sodomy laws violated constitutional rights of liberty and privacy, and U.S. vs. Windsor in 2013, when the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The opinion of the Court issued Friday morning concluded:

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.

[…] It is so ordered.

Photo: Pro and anti-gay marriage demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court as it hears arguments on the question of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Brian Cahn/Zuma Press/TNS)

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Linda Bullock

    YES! It’s about time.

  • paulyz

    Yipee! Won’t be long now that we can have multiple-partner marriages, or any other type of marriage.

    • Theo McKinney

      You can maybe. Or you can try. We’ll see how that works.

    • The lucky one

      If you’re that much of a glutton for punishment go for it.

    • smilee

      This ruling has nothing to do with any of those things so you are fuzzy over nothing.

    • Carolyn1520

      I don’t think you have a lot to worry about. If you fear it, just keep talking. 🙂

    • anothertoothpick

      And dogs too? We can marry our dogs now?

      • 1standlastword

        Careful PETA might be listening

        • paulyz

          I belong to PETA: People Enjoying Tasty Animals. I have a T-Bone on the grill now.

          • 1standlastword

            well It’ not a big deal when you buy it at your local market like you most likely did…enjoy!

      • tomtype

        If you are serious, why would you bring up something so unrelated.
        If you are being facicious, you ain’t funny.

        • anothertoothpick

          Am I as funny as this meathead?

      • JPHALL

        If that is what you want, go get a lawyer and fight fit!

    • JPHALL

      I see you have never paid attention to reality. Since the days of the Bible multiple marriages have existed and been accepted. Read about David, Solomon, Saul and some of the Patriarch’s.

  • Paul Bass

    And now how many GOP presidential candidates (Huckster, I’m talking about you…) will be complaining about the “activist judges” of the Supreme Court changing the laws of the land?
    Grow up, you lost, get over it, time to wake up and join the 21st century.

  • Theo McKinney

    “Gay marriage” is now just “marriage”.

    And it was good.

  • j.martindale

    What a pleasure to watch Scalia and his ilk become less and less relevant in the SCOTUS.

  • The lucky one

    Isn’t that the major problem with SCOTUS, liberal justices and conservative justices? How about justices who can read and interpret the law in a non-partisan manner. I realize that’s a fantasy given the court’s history. With the exception of the Warren court the bias for the mega-wealthy, both individuals and corporations, has always been a characteristic of the court.

  • AgLander

    Does this court decision mean that gays will no longer seem so angry all the time and in your face demanding, beyond legal protection, that you endorse their lifestyle?

    • 1standlastword

      They pay taxes so America should “endorse” or better said, give them all the legal rights and benefits of all other taxpayers.

      • drdroad

        Amazing how those entitled but denied ‘get in your face’, huh? You know, those damn women, blacks, gays. Poor AgLander.

    • drdroad

      Hmmm, you’ve got gays in your face?? What’d you do? My gay nephew is never in my face. His boyfriend maybe . . .

    • oldtack

      In my active career I was General Manager of a rather large work force and in that diversified work force there were several homosexuals, both male and female. The world addresses these as GAYS but nowhere in sexual makeup can I find Gay sexual. There is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, a sexual, transsexual and on but no GAY sexual.
      For the most part these men and women were good employees and good people. Well liked by most everyone.
      In the Business world and in my neighborhood there are homosexuals. I have NEVER had one “in my face”demanding anything.

      I was reared in a very conservative Protestant religious atmosphere and I may shock these people if they asked for my thoughts on their lifestyle. But in secular matters I have no problem.

  • 1standlastword

    Well in the last two days the SCOTUS put a wrinkle as wide as the Grand Canyon in the stump speeches of prospective republican nominees. I guess they will have to find a new appeal to their fellow troglodytes!

    Any ideas?

    How’s this…If I’m elected president I will fund NASA to find us a new galaxy…LOL!

    • plc97477

      I will be glad to help them pack.

  • Canistercook

    Seems like the Supreme Court has just become another arm of the ruling government. If you can stack it with liberals you get a liberal decision, if you can stack it with conservatives you get a conservative decision. Is it becoming just a waste of money!

    • 1standlastword

      I don’ know about your childhood but you are most likely familiar with the situation when one sibling wants to use a certain toy and the other sibling won’t have it so the protesting sib goes to daddy…that’s what our government has become….And yes it is a waste of money

      I’ve always believed that for what they do politicians should be paid and hourly wage starting at the bottom like the honest working folk in this country

    • 788eddie

      Hey Canisterhook, “Seems like the Supreme Court has just become another arm of the ruling government.”

      I think that’s referred to as a majority; a 6-3 Supreme Court decision, and the current administration, elected by the majority of voters in the last election. Time to pull up your “big boy” pants and deal with it.

    • drdroad

      Well, that’s not what happened in this case? The court is basically conservative, as 5 of the 9 Justices were appointed by Republican Presidents.

    • oldtack

      Typical righteous bigot. IF they interpret Law as YOU see it they are GOOD neutral Judges. But, By God, if they interpret a law different than what YOU deem as right then they are a worthless bunch of Bastards and Bitches catering to whoever influences them.?

  • anothertoothpick

    The supreme court strikes down a sharia law.

  • silas1898

    Lots of cheap beer and cheaper liquor will be chugged out in the Redlands this weekend.

    Be careful out there. Bullets will fly.

  • 1standlastword

    I just read what the social conservatives riding the clown car have to say about today’s ruling and it shivers me timbers to think that this occasion WILL result in insanely religious faux Christians assaulting and maybe murdering LGBT folks throughout the country…listen…hear the dog whistles in Huckabee’s message:

    “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee vowed not to “acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.”

  • tomtype

    To Justice Antonin Scalia:
    The right to decide has now been returned to the people themselves, not to the intermediary, the state. If the decision should be left to the people, doesn’t it make good sense to return it directly to the people, where they will decide it on an individual basis, rather than leaving it up to the state, with will inevitably make a bad decision against the wishes of some of the people. Since this really affects other very little, why not leave it up to each individual?

    • 1standlastword

      You make a very accurate distinction between the “state” and the “people”! Republican legislators stacked with social conservative tea party lawmakers are the ones responsible for the recent insurgence of religious rights laws that the people have NOT been able to way in on. Its going on in my purple state with “closely held” business and christian oriented publicly funded state agency taking advantage of a business friendly republican governor and conservative legislature. They have barred LGBT families from adoption, stymied women’s reproductive rights, introduced and religion into high school academics. We hear about states rights but since republicans have cooked the electoral process we know that states rights–as for republicans–does not equate with the will of the people in those states. That is why republicans can claim the SCOTUS took the marriage equality agenda away for the states when all the FACTS on the ground support the SCOTUS granted the peoples will

      It’s time for all to see the republican party has gone rogue…completely gone rogue. Nothing but a gang of rebels!!!!

    • paulyz

      Our Government never was about “Direct” elections by people which would lead to mob rule, but by “representatives” elected by the People. The States are much better able on most issues to represent the People than the distant Fed. Gov., which is how our Country, in the founders wisdom, put in place.

      • tomtype

        Direct elections obviously don’t lead to mob rule, for every one except the president are conducted by direct elections. You vote directly for your local city and county officials, even the state officials.
        Consider for a moment, there is a type of republic in which one votes only on the local level. Then you representatives vote for the next level. and so on until the top legislature elects a leader. It has a technical term: Soviets. It did an excellent job of preventing mob rule at the “minor” extent of having a dictatorship.
        No system is perfect, but we often end up making sure that one thing cannot/will not happen, to end up allowing another evil just as serious.
        Remember initially the Senate was not directly elected either. But it was clear by 1912 that it made more sense to have direct elections there. Strange how often we forget the positive lessons learned, while some die hard keeps reminding us of potential mistakes that turn out never to have happened.

  • tdm3624

    Glad this issue is over.

  • 1standlastword

    Here’s a piece of prophecy and for those of us who remember this a blast from the past; for those too young ENJOY

    To all American faux-Christians and GOTP…well….

  • FT66

    I can’t understand little Piyush Jindal bubling around. If he can’t respect the ruling of the highest Court of the nation, what else will make him accept that is the last judgment on earth? Am sick and tired hearing this man whining all the time.

  • charleo1

    Aren’t we all freer, our liberties more secure, when we’re all freer? Freer to pursue our own definitions of happiness. Freer to quit our jobs, and pursue our dreams, and not need to worry that a health problem will prevent us from financially protecting our families. Can we imagine that ACA has just freed the next Bill Gates, or a 21st century Edison, that had been tethered to his job because he’s tied to an insurance policy? Can we allow ourselves to imagine the possibilities of freedom? And would we not be an even better Country in which to live, if we as a people decide discrimination, and intolerance is out? Something to be left in the last century? Something the World would be better off, if the Theocrats, and the people in the Mid East left in the 15th century. Freedom is nothing to fear. Wouldn’t we better off, if the days of referendums that limit the Rights of this group, or that one, by putting barriers between persons and their liberty were over? That to exclude for purely political purposes the possibility of some 12 million people within our borders. Invited here to do the hard hot work none of us wanted, or would do. From ever becoming full fledged partners in this great democratic experiment called the United States of America. Can’t we agree, no matter what we decide, that what we’re doing now is just fundamentally wrong, and contradictory to what we’ve always stood for as a Country? Human Rights, and the dignity to which of each and all of our brothers, and sisters, as Jefferson put it so well.

    • oldtack

      Good thoughts Charlio.

      • charleo1

        Thanks for taking your valuable time this AM to read it!

        • oldtack

          A good well written post deserves recognition. . The time taken to read it is not valuable wasted time.

    • Bob M

      To some people, the only important freedom is the freedom to exclude & hate.

      • charleo1

        The one, “freedom,” they’re not entitled to have.