On Thursday the New York Times headlines announced, “Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage with Two Major Rulings.” They could just as well have read, “Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage, Accuses DOMA Defenders of Malice.”
On what basis did the majority rule? The U.S. Constitution says nothing about a “right to marriage.” All marriage laws in our nation have always been state laws.
Have gays seeking to marry been deprived of due process? The court has previously ruled that the Due Process Clause protects only “those fundamental rights and liberties which are, objectively, ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition or equal protection,'” a hard case to make since Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage only ten years ago.
Have gays seeking to marry been deprived of equal protection under the law? In his dissent, Justice Alito says that asking the Court to determine that DOMA (deprives gays of equal protection)…ask[s] us to rule that the presence of two members of the opposite sex is as rationally related to marriage as white skin is to voting or a Y-chromosome is to the ability to administer an estate. (Yeah, the legal reasoning is kind of dense, but that’s the way the equal protection clause has been interpreted by the court.)
So on what meaningful grounds has this right to gay marriage been legalized? The majority found that the law was based on improper animus, or motivation, specifically a “bare congressional desire to harm” gays who seek to marry.
Even if this were true the majority violated judicial precedent which holds that the Supreme Court “will not strike down an otherwise constitutional statute on the basis of an alleged illicit legislative motive.” (United States v. O’Brien, 39, U. S. 367, 383 )
According to the majority, the writers of the law and those who support/voted for them, which would include me, seek “to disparage and to injure” same-sex couples. We want to “demean,” to “impose inequality,” to “impose . . . a stigma,” to deny people “equal dignity,” to brand gay people as “unworthy,” and to “humiliat[e]” their children.
This is simply not true. And it grieves me that my government would so judge my motives and the motives of my elected representatives who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act. There is no discussion or acknowledgement in the court’s majority opinion of those who object to gay marriage because of conscience, because of religious belief, because (for me) Jesus affirmed marriage to be between a man and a woman…and I want to follow Jesus.
When it comes to gay marriage there is no longer any respect for dissent, nor regard for conscientious objection, only bigots who discriminate based on homophobia (fear), hate or malice. (BTW…Webster’s definition of a bigot is “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.")
It used to be that tolerance meant you disagree with someone but you treat them with respect. Now disagreement=intolerance.
Every parent of a grown child knows that he or she will do many things that we may deeply disagree with. But for almost all of us it does not change one bit the love we feel for them. We do not seek to disparage them. Or injure them. Or demean them. Or stigmatize them. We haven’t a thought of denying their dignity or branding them as unworthy. And we never, ever want to humiliate their children.
We simply disagree. Because we have a different vision of what is good and right.
This court decision demeans my motives. It stigmatizes my deepest religious beliefs. It is worthy of Orwell’s Big Brother. Not the Supreme Court of the United States. And it is on a collision course with the first amendment which protects my freedom of religion.
So how do we respond when WE are demeaned and stigmatized? When we are disparaged and suffer a loss of dignity?
Well, if we want to follow Jesus, we double down on loving well. We express our disagreements with gentleness and respect. We continue to be good stewards of our citizenship, but in our daily lives we seek to show love and kindness to gays and lesbians and those who approve gay marriage.
“Love bears all things.” Let us be known for our love and forbearance. When we encounter gays and lesbians let us strive to see the image of God in them. And acknowledge that we are fellow-travelers, sinners all.
And when we are personally attacked, like this ruling personally attacks us and our deepest beliefs, let Jesus’ words to us take on new meaning, "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”