Supreme Court: Gay Americans are equal, and have right to marry

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Thanks to a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, gay Americans now have a recognized, constitutional right to marry in all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

That of course includes Georgia, which had passed a ban on such marriage. All states must license gay couples to marry, and must recognize those marriages conducted by other states.

Can I have an amen?

Opponents of the decision will of course decry it as a diminishing of marriage, as even anti-marriage. I do not understand that argument. The ruling today celebrates the emotional, spiritual, societal and legal centrality of marriage, declaring that under the Constitution it cannot be granted to some people but denied to others based on their sexual identification. The right to marry is fundamental.

In his decision, Kennedy cites a 1986 Supreme Court decision, Hardwick v. Georgia, in which justices upheld a state law that criminalized gay sex. That ruling came less than 30 years ago, so the changes that have occurred have come with stunning speed. As Kennedy also notes rather wryly, “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times.”

That certainly applies to the man who strenuously and successfully argued the Hardwick case for Georgia, then-Attorney General Mike Bowers, who is now an advocate for gay rights and gay equality.

The dissents in the case are vigorous and strongly worded. “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment,” Chief Justice John Roberts writes. “The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this court’s precedent.”

Justice Antonin Scalia likewise claims that “the substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” but the means by which it was reached is deeply troubling:

“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact — and the furthest extension one can even imagine — of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention.”

In his majority opinion, Kennedy attempts to address that concern of the court creating liberties that the Founders had not envisioned. He writes:

“The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.”

What Kennedy, Roberts and Scalia are debating is a fundamentally important issue, but the history of the court offers multiple examples of the process that Kennedy describes. In its Dred Scott decision of 1857, for example, the court ruled that black Americans are in fact not Americans at all, that no descendant of a person of African descent brought here as a slave could ever be recognized as a citizen of this country.

That was the understanding of its era and also the understanding of many of the Founders, but in time that understanding changed and changed dramatically. It changed because, to cite Kennedy again, “new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, (and) a claim to liberty must be addressed.”

In Loving v. Virginia, the court ruled that laws barring racial intermarriage were unconstitutional. It reached that decision even though such laws had been on the books dating back to before the Revolution and had never been successfully challenged. The Founding Fathers clearly considered anti-miscegenation laws constitutional, but in 1967 a unanimous Supreme Court, citing the same document drafted by the Founders, ruled otherwise.

In Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the Court likewise ruled that “separate but equal” systems of education were unconstitutional, a decision that reversed a Court decision of more than 50 years earlier.

Had the Constitution been changed in those 58 years between Brown and Plessy v. Ferguson? No, it had not, not in ways that affected that issue. But our understanding of the Constitution’s promises of liberty and equality changed significantly in that time, and the Brown court recognized that change.

Obergefell v. Hodges is another in that line of decisions, and will be remembered as a landmark decision in the realization of the promise that this country embodies. The fundamental right of equal protection under the law now applies to Americans regardless of their sexual orientation. That is cause for celebration.

Reader Comments 0

1962 comments
BillyPeeler
BillyPeeler

Jay, I was really thrilled with this decision.  I'm glad to see that gay couples who are devoted to one another can finally have their long-time relationships validated and receive the same recognition and benefits...and be subject to the same obligations, too...that marriage entails. 
I do wish that Justices Ginsburg and Kagan had had enough professional integrity NOT to officiate at gay weddings just a couple of months prior to the case.  Everyone knew full well that the case was on the docket, and that it would be a controversial one.  And in such a case, it's very important that everyone maintain the appearance (at least) of being impartial and not having pre-set dispositions.  And when you actually CONDUCT a gay wedding, that pretty much shows everyone that your mind is made up.  And frankly...trying to be as objective as I can about it...both probably should have recused themselves.  And I would not have wanted that, although it was probably called for under the circumstances. 
If the decision had gone the other way, and been 5-4 against gay marriage, and if two of the conservative justices had made speeches at an anti-gay marriage rally a couple of month's prior, I would have raised hell.  (And felt right to do so.) 

A SCOTUS judge has certain obligations, and among them is to approach each case without having expressed or demonstrated any pre-set notions or beliefs.  And I do wish that all the justices had done exactly that. 

JamVet
JamVet

@JKLtwo 

LOL!
I wonder how many years it took the traitors to find five black guys who would hold their flag!

Very funny, traitor flag lover!


JKLtwo
JKLtwo

@JamVet @JKLtwo Stolen Valor- Just because you hate the American flag doesn't mean everyone else does.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Empirical data shows declaring victory while backing out the door.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Alright kooks. Gotta hit the sack. I'll play with you tools, I mean toys, tomorrow. G'night kooks.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

The repetitive post bunny and his wonkey spam. The 2 go together like peaches n cream. ToO funny.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Paulinnh,

You mentioned nothing about any other factors sir. Your original posts concentrated on one cause only. Thank god I was here to teach you.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Doom Classical liberal 

My original post (singular) was a flippant remark about debt relief.

I have made several posts since mentioning causes - not least the Marshall Plan, something you have yet to acknowledge as a factor in the economic recovery of Germany.

You didn't teach me anything.

BTW - You should capitalize God if you don't want to upset some of the more zealous posters.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Feeding off me again. Kooks love the Doom

The obsession with an irrelevant twenty something year old girl is kinda bizarre. Something Freudian going on there lololololololol!

honested
honested

@Doom Classical liberal 

Wait a minute, her mother was somebody in extremist wrong wing political circles way in the past wasn't she?

Didn't she completely discredit Senator mcsame's consideration to be President?

bu2
bu2

@Kamchak 

Really, do you need to keep posting experts who are so only in their own mind?  Its a historian from "the New School," a "progressive university centered in Greenwich Village."  That's the description on their own website.


Why not just quote Nancy Pelosi?  She has no more credibility than these people.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Empirical data shows that Bristol Palin can't hold an aspirin between her knees.

Just the facts ma'am, just the facts.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

An intellectual elite in the form of duck dynasty is leading all of us?

Somebody take that bottle away from Ed of error.

honested
honested

@Doom Classical liberal 

What do you think the Civilized portions of the Country think of all of us when they look at those misguided rubes?

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Paulinnh,

That is not what you said. You stated unequivocally that it was the debt restructuring that was responsible for the German miracle. It was only when I showed you the market reforms that erhard introduced that you acknowledged the irrefutable economic data. The economy boomed after erhard s free market reforms and the effect was immediate.

Another fallacy of yours is the suggestion that the economy grew because there was so much rebuilding to do. To that I refer you to the broken window fallacy in economic thought. The other problem that you have is that if that was the impetus for growth then why was the economy stagnant for the first 2 years of rebuilding?

The reality and the whole point is that the economy boomed because erhard almost overnight removed the various bureaucrats and their heavy handed policies, their central planning that was failing, and anti market price controls. The allied and old German Bureaucracies were gone for the most part, the red tape removed from the economy. The boom in growth was immediate.

Sure, debt cancellation helped a little later on but that was well after the dramatic growth began to unfold.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Doom Classical liberal 

"You stated unequivocally that it was the debt restructuring that was responsible for the German miracle"

Unequivocally?  No I didn't.  We'll just have to disagree on that.

"Another fallacy of yours is the suggestion that the economy grew because there was so much rebuilding to do"

Did you look at the report from the Cato Institute - they concluded that an important reason for the boom was rebuilding.  I would assume you are familiar with the Cato Institute.

You really seem to be an absolutist on the issue that one thing alone led to the boom

JamVet
JamVet

Just (ban) the ones that do not live in the state and do not subscribe to the paper.

Little Lord Fauntleroy goes Neo-Nazi...

He hasn't been the same since the racist (oops, there's that R word!) trish left out midst...

honested
honested

@Doom Classical liberal 

Why whine about duck dynasty.

We should all be happy that the rest of the country can see what an intellectual elite is allowed to represent all of us in duck dynasty.

Heck, next they might make a reality show about the paulding county republiklan party.

Then the rest of the country will declare Georgia off limits.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

td,

You wish the ajc would ban people who add nothing to the conversation?

I dunno. If they did that then who else is gonna bytch and whine about bristol palin?

td1234
td1234

@Doom Classical liberal Just the ones that do not live in the state and do not subscribe to the paper. I can think of two off off the top of my head that could do wonders for the board and we would still have plenty of them whine and cry about Bristol and Duck Dynasty. 

td1234
td1234

@honested I did not mention any names and did not say anything about people that actually offer an opinion and add to the debate. You are totally wrong 99% of the time but at least you bring your full fledged opinion to the debate.  

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Totally wrong 99% of the time?

Just because I keep hoping that Georgia Voters will move into the 21st Century?

Of course there is the issue of this week's Supreme Court votes, but I bet you will still think those were 'wrong' this time next year.

honested
honested

@td1234 @Doom Classical liberal 

tiny dog, 

I live here so I think I qualify.

I hope you get to stay because I can count on you to always provide the 'most wrong' opinion each and every day.

honested
honested

@Kamchak 

Whether she ever admits it or not, the FACTS seem to illustrate the failure.

DunwoodyGranny
DunwoodyGranny

Stephen Colbert wins the internet:

>>Wow, history moves fast. It’s hard to believes that gays achieved full constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did.<<

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Soooey! Looks like the pig came without me even having to call. Hahahaha!

Ain't that cute. Spam with Berkley marina. Soooooo predictable.

Damn. I wish the boy could get some fresh material once in awhile. Not to mention an original thought more frequently than a halley comet return trip.

td1234
td1234

@Doom Classical liberal I wish Bookman would ban the people that do not add anything to the conversation and also live out of the state and do not subscribe to the paper. 

Kamchak
Kamchak

@td1234 

My legal state of residence is Georgia, I am currently in the state and my family has maintained a subscription to the AJC longer than you have been alive, sport.

Just the facts ma'am, just the facts.

td1234
td1234

@Kamchak Hit dog will hollow. You have proof I was talking about you? I guess that means you know you add nothing constructive to the conversation. LOL

Kamchak
Kamchak

@td1234 

 Hit dog will hollow.

Can a hit dog eat "smelling sauce"?

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Lenin,

I see. So you're just guessing and assuming that because Keynesianism was in vogue in the 60s that it was Keynes policies they were following. Got it.

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

Wow, that Dummy is one great Debater!!  I mean look at all the stuff he's posted that, basically, only makes sense to him!  Why, i bet one would call him a MASTER BATER!!  

josef
josef

CHEROKEE


Piggybacking on what you said to TD below...


My own thoughts. for what they're worth, but I think it is time now that the LGBTs and people of faith unite in the common cause of pressuring our government to take a firmer stand and bring to the table the treatment of BOTH our communities in many of those countries where real persecution on a life and death basis is going on as we nyanh=nyanh,

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Awww. Somebody still got butt hurt when it was revealed that practically every one of his phrases was copied straight from wonkey spam. Looks like the non original post bunny has, as wonkey spam used to put it, the sadz. Lololololololololol.

josef
josef

making the rounds...



"My facebook feed looks like a battle broke out between the Confederates and a skittles factory."


Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Josef,

Please don't forget. Spam also awarded me an honorary PhD in eastern European history too. Oh. And my proudest achievement was the honorary PhD in 70s funkbandology. I'm known for my doctoral dissertation on parliament funk band leader Lionel Ritchie.

So many honorary PhDs from the kooks. So little time to celebrate.

josef
josef

@Doom Classical liberal 


I see you and Sic Transit K'chak are at least in agreement that the region is no longer Eastern, but now eastern, Europe.  Baby steps, but progress toward accord...


LOL

josef
josef

@td1234 @josef 


I did that, didn't I... oh, well, it's good enough that G-d will forgive me...  LOL

td1234
td1234

@josef You stole that from me last night. LOL


And I stole it from FB. LOL