Vanity thought #1408. “Supreme” Justice 9

I’m almost at the end of the majority opinion, after that there are four dissenting opinions and the whole thing will be over. I don’t think I want to cover dissent paragraph by paragraph as I’m doing with the ruling and its support so dissent should be relatively quick.

Today I’ll start with opinion’s opinion of what effect SSM legalization should have on people who disagree with it on religious reasons. The opinion is that religious freedoms will not be affected, just as there will be no effect on straight couples attitudes to procreation.

Personally, I’d dismiss this argument out of hand. There always IS effect, they just don’t want to admit it. It’s the part of the opinion where they want to sweep problems under the carpet, it’s nearly the end and they have no energy or desire to engage with question rising arguments. Everything should end smoothly, they can’t leave the readers hanging, wandering if SSM legalization might bring negative effects to the society, so they just stated blankly that there will be no effects, no problems, nothing to even talk about.

This paragraph, and it’s only one paragraph out of twenty pages, basically tells religious people what to do, completely skipping any of their potential concerns. Essentially, they say that First Amendment still stands and so religions will have nothing to worry about and should continue in their usual ways. People can still believe whatever they want on the matter and they can continue to teach others “divine precepts” with “utmost, sincere conviction”, so that settles it. Done in two sentences.

Then the opinion awards the same freedom to anyone else who opposes SSM on whatever grounds, just to be fair, I suppose. I don’t even know who they have in mind here but if these people exist the court mercifully grants them permission to think what they think. They can’t DO anything about it, however, except talking to others. The same freedom is then awarded to proponents of SSM so that they can continue to debate religionists. The difference, of course, is that they can also practice and flaunt SSM legaly in religionists’ faces.

It’s basically a message to religions that they don’t matter and should stay in people’s minds, where they belong. The state is a secular institution and religions can’t touch it. This is a big topic, however, and I’m not prepared to talk about it in detail.

In short, I’m of the opinion that separation of church and state was introduced to protect religions from governments. The US was founded by Christians fleeing government persecution in Europe and they didn’t want the repeat of the same experience in the New World. I won’t state this with any certainty, however – the issue is controversial, there are arguments for all sorts of interpretations, and the overall balance might be tipping towards protecting state from religion, which should have been a concern, too – those European governments were acting as extensions of the Catholic Church and so protestants beef was not so much with their states but with the church behind it.

Either way, we can only guess what founding fathers intentions were but we can see what separation of state and church has become now. The state gradually took over all aspects of public life that were traditionally in the domain of the church, particularly marriage and education. When the US was founded there was no secular education but now religious education is outlawed in public schools, another big topic for another day.

As far as marriage is concerned – the state has replaced the church as an authority here. People still recognize the value of being married by a priest but from the state’s POV it’s anachronism that has no bearing on the legality of the union. In this area I’d rather support the movement to abolish civil marriage altogether and call it something like civil union instead, they’ve been doing this in Europe for a while now. This way they get the same legal rights to whatever benefits but avoid the word “marriage” altogether. The beauty of this solution is that marriage stays the same, as God intended, and atheists or gays also get what they want.

The problem is that gays and atheists want to be married in the eyes of God, too, they want God to recognize their unions just the same. By calling it “same sex MARRIAGE” they send the message to God and all those who still believe in His existence that they can make their own laws and definitions. Civil unions are meant to diffuse the confrontation but proponents of SSM are not interested in that, they want total victory over God in every aspect of public life they can think of.

Practical effects of legalizing SSM on religious organizations are covered in dissent so I’ll leave that out for now.

The final argument the opinion deals with is the requirement for all States to recognize SSM performed elsewhere. One reason is purely technical – if the Court ruled that all States must issue SSM licenses then it makes no sense not to recognize out of State marriages. Another reason is an ethical one – it harms gays couples. What harm? It’s “the most perplexing and distressing complication”. Clear now? Not to me. It promotes “instability and uncertainty”, the court clarifies. Still not clear. Freedom from complexities, instability, and uncertainty is not the one protected by the constitution and so it’s not Supreme Court’s job to remedy these afflictions against democratically affected legislation by the States.

There’s one practical example given, though – same sex couples crossing into a state where their marriage isn’t recognized will run into “severe hardship” in case of spouse’s hospitalization, which was the subject of one of the legal cases that were combined for this ruling. Fair enough, but as one of the dissenters said, these problems can be easily overcome by either amending hospital regulations or by using the power of attorney to prepare for such emergencies, ditto for settling issues with inheritance. Allowing people to visit their “spouses” in hospitals should not be the reason for the Supreme Court to override State legislation on SSM.

And then there’s the final paragraph summarizing the whole case. Marriage is important, bla bla bla, gays do not disrespect marriage, bla bla bla, they just don’t want to be condemned to “live in loneliness”, and the court grants them that right. That’s right – they are essentially talking about right not to live in loneliness, now constitutionally protected. God bless America.

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