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Kimberly Ross: US gay marriage ruling will poison American society

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The modern idea of marriage “equality” is impossible. It’s impossible because marriage was established and defined by God, who created it as a union between one man and one woman. No other formula works. Anything to the contrary comes off as a cheap attempt to hijack.

Despite this truth, America publicly announced its best shot at “equality” on June 26 when news came that the United States Supreme Court had voted 5-4 to legalise gay marriage across the country. This decision did not surprise many people. The tide has been turning in America for some time, and progressive, feel-good policy is a major part of our national dialogue. As I mentioned previously, my personal opinion on marriage is that it will always be between one man and one woman, no matter what may be popularly accepted or promoted. However, I understand that it is impossible to legislate for morality. Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right. We’ve seen this before with the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade. Abortion is legal in America, but it is a moral wrong.

Regardless of personal opinions on gay marriage, Americans of all persuasions should be bothered by the judicial activism which occurred last week. As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia expertly laid out in the dissent, a matter of great importance was decided for so many by so few:

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.  This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School.  Four of the nine are natives of New York City.  Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single South-westerner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not.  And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, also one of the four dissenters, delivered strong and worrisome words in the dissent as well:

Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.  The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation.  If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not.   It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible.  By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas.  Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turn-about is fair play.  But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.

Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law.  If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate.  Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.

Without a doubt, the focus of the dissent was on the forceful nature of the Supreme Court’s decision. By deciding something for the entire country, the court took away the rights of the states to decide – among their people – what was best for them. In the days since the decision, supporters of same-sex marriage, instead of acting as a winning side usually does, have been extremely harsh in their claims that those opposing them are hateful bigots, living in the past. “It’s the 21st century!” they say. “Time to move on!”

President Obama, after a week of court-supported legacy building, is glowing in his victories. He vowed to bring “Hope and Change” to the country. The latter he most certainly has done, and in alarming fashion. As recently as 2008, he himself vocally supported traditional marriage, saying “I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. You know, God’s in the mix”. Beyond that, he had previously reaffirmed the historical, traditional nature of marriage arguments in the country, and how he believed it was a states’ issue. Conveniently this week, Obama shared “Today is a big step in our march toward equality”. No mention anywhere that I can see is the fact that he himself was a speed bump on that march. But now, it will be – and is – open season on anyone who still holds his former views. It is selective praise and outrage.

The national discussion has never been about “live and let live”. It’s not about achieving gay marriage in the United States, which occurred, but was ill-gotten. No, it’s about forcing the other side to participate and chant the winners’ mantra. Failure on the parts of the former to do so will all too easily result in persecution, ostracisation, and even loss of position and livelihood. In his dissent, Justice Alito referred to a future with those realities.

Although President Obama once praised traditional marriage and insisted “God’s in the mix”, it’s clear the country has shut that supernatural component out. Beyond that, the highest court in the land has shut the states out, in favor of the views of justices seeking to legislate from the bench. It’s a new day in America, but the change is not good. It will become a moment in history when the freedom and religious liberty of the American people received its biggest strike yet.

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Kimberly Ross
Kimberly Ross is a history graduate who writes for redstate.com.

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