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Friday, June 26, 2015

2nd great day for liberals: Gays can marry

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered outside the Supreme Court on Friday. (photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Robert Barnes, The Washington Post
Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered outside the Supreme Court on Friday. (photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Supreme Court Rules Gay Couples Nationwide Have a Right to Marry

By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post
 
he Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.

The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the opinion by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote separate opinions.

Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, “This is a court, not a legislature.”

The country’s first legally recognized same-sex marriages took place just 11 years ago, the result of a Massachusetts state supreme court decision. Now, more than 70 percent of Americans live in states where same-sex couples are allowed to marry, according to estimates.

The Supreme Court used cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court last year, to find that the Constitution does not allow such prohibitions.

The questions raised in the cases were left unanswered in 2013, when the justices last confronted the issue of same-sex marriage. A slim majority of the court said at the time that a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act — withholding the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriages — was unconstitutional. In a separate case, the court said procedural issues kept it from answering the constitutional question in a case from California, but that move allowed same-sex marriages to resume in that state.

Since then, courts across the nation — with the notable exception of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court that left intact the restrictions in the four states at issue — have struck down a string of state prohibitions on same-sex marriage, many of them passed by voters in referendums.

When the Supreme Court declined to review a clutch of those court decisions in October, same-sex marriage proliferated across the country.

Couples may now marry in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Public attitudes toward such unions have undergone a remarkable change as well. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll showed a record 61 percent of Americans say they support same-sex marriage. The acceptance is driven by higher margins among the young.

When the justices declined in October to review the string of victories same-sex marriage proponents had won in other parts of the country, it meant the number of states required to allow gay marriages grew dramatically, offering the kind of cultural shift the court often likes to see before approving a fundamental change.

The Obama administration had urged the court to find that the Constitution requires such restrictions be struck down, and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. made the case on behalf of the administration at the court’s oral arguments in April.

“In a world in which gay and lesbian couples live openly as our neighbors, they raise their children side by side with the rest of us, they contribute fully as members of the community . . . it is simply untenable — untenable — to suggest that they can be denied the right of equal participation in an institution of marriage, or that they can be required to wait until the majority decides that it is ready to treat gay and lesbian people as equals,” he said.

The combined cases now before the Supreme Court are known as Obergefell v. Hodges. 

Comments

+30 # wrknight 2015-06-26 09:20
"Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, 'This is a court, not a legislature.'”

Roberts should have kept that in mind when he ruled on Citizens United.
+20 # reiverpacific 2015-06-26 09:50
Quoting wrknight:
"Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, 'This is a court, not a legislature.'”

Roberts should have kept that in mind when he ruled on Citizens United.

You took the words right out of my daffy digits!
It especially applies to Scalia and Thomas, those two idealogical demagogue members of the Catholic, elite, shadowy Opus Dei, should never have been elected to ANY bench, especially this one of last resort and whose votes and opinions are as predictable and toxic as the results of drinking arsenic, and as closely linked as venom and pain.
+15 # MEBrowning 2015-06-26 09:58
Precisely. Scalia and Thomas in particular have demonstrated repeatedly that they are living in a world of their own making, where corporations are people and intolerance is the order of the day. If they are unwilling or unable to march to the beat of justice, they are not fit to serve as its final arbiters.
+1 # davidr 2015-06-26 10:47
I think Roberts is actually the more interesting case. As it has appeared during his tenure, Roberts is a terribly stunted human being, most profoundly stunted in his basic conception of what a person is. He can see, where most cannot, how a corporation is a person naturally endowed with political (Citizens United) and religious (Hobby Lobby) rights. But he cannot see how private individuals wishing to contract in civil marriage must be treated under the 14th Amendment.

He says, "Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner [and] new benefits, … but do not celebrate the Constitution." Amazingly, for Roberts, there is no Constitutional issue in Obergefell! The case is about eccentrics for whom he has no sympathy seeking benefits they don't naturally deserve. Let them talk to someone in their own statehouse (if they're considered people there).

The depth of his alienation from real human beings, his abject deferral to corporate & authoritarian forms — these sound like some form of psychopathy. If at a fundamental level Roberts doesn't feel himself to be a person among other people, that would explain a lot about his jurisprudence.
+5 # Dust 2015-06-26 10:24
Welcome home, brothers and sisters!!!
+10 # Old4Poor 2015-06-26 10:25
I will be 72 on July 4th and have lived through exciting times, with a lot of discouraging things but also many times that are quite wonderful.

This week, with Confederate flags coming down, a re dedication to the Voting Rights Act in Congress, the right of all to Health Insurance declared, and now the right to love and be loved for all.

Wonderful, Wonderful, Wonderful.

Do not think that it is only the young who support Same-Sex Marriage.

Life can be a long and lonely experience. We each deserves the right to happiness.
+5 # Majikman 2015-06-26 10:25
This ruling will further dilute the poisonous influence of the religious fundy wackos. Until those mean spirited crazies are completely de-fanged, no woman or child is safe from their wrath. Great step for personal freedom and privacy.

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