Freedom to Marry

Why does “liberty” include gay marriage?  If you begin with the assumption that being gay is an in-born trait, like being black, then you have to conclude that either gays must be allowed to marry, or civil marriage has to be eliminated for everyone.  I think this is the choice that the justices faced, and the majority decided that it was impractical to eliminate marriage as a state-sponsored institution.   The minority couldn’t agree on much, I guess, as they each wrote their own dissenting opinion.

Justice Thomas disagreed with that basic tenet (all these dissenting quotes are from CBS News):

Thomas interpreted “liberty” in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment as referring specifically to “freedom from restraint.” With that in mind, he wrote that the petitioners couldn’t claim “under the most plausible definition of ‘liberty,’ that they have been imprisoned or physically restrained by the States for participating in same-sex relationships,” noting that they have “been left alone to order their lives as they see fit.”

What they had not been granted by the states is the formal recognition of their marriages in a formal way, and Thomas argued, “Liberty is only freedom from governmental action, not an entitlement to governmental benefits.”

Chief Justice Roberts kind of felt the same way, but also brought up democracy.  I’m pretty sure judicial review is in place to keep the majority from violating the rights of the minority through democratic processes;  i.e., dude, that’s your job:

“The majority today relies on its own understanding of what freedom is and must become,” he said to the court, and the deepest problem with their decision was “the disrespect it shows the democratic process.”

Scalia was just mad.  In every sense of the word.  His dissent reads like blog post [whatever that means].  Alito brought up child rearing in his dissent.  Which is obviously not a valid argument.

No one argued that being gay is some kind of “choice.”  This is not even argued by the most hateful Christianists anymore, they call it “same sex attracted.”  Many Christians and pretty much all Christianists believe that God intentionally made them with this burden to bear, and never to act on.  For a heartbreaking story about it, see here.  And for a detailed, non-shrieking explantion, see here.  This is clearly a religious belief, not shared by a majority of Americans or even Christians.  They lose me as soon as they whip out Leviticus.

So, why are so many Christians and Christianists so upset about this decision?  I think there are two reasons.  One is that they fail to recognize the distinction between church and state, and the responsibilities of the state, especially as it relates to issues over which there is disagreement.  The second is that they believe that the USA is, in fact, a Christian nation and should reflect (their) Christian beliefs.

The second is easiest to address.  Here is an argument that USA was founded to be a Christian nation.  There are lots of these out there.  I don’t understand how anyone can agree with that, since it’s spelled out pretty clearly in the bill of rights that the state shall not establish a religion.  Not all of our founding fathers were Christians, either.  Jefferson was more of a deist, which was discussed in depth by Barry Grossman at a Jefferson Educational Society speech in Erie earlier this year.  The crowd at that talk pretty much agreed that Jefferson could not really be defined as a Christian, based on his own writings.  Thomas Paine wrote a book about how the Bible was all nonsense.   This argument  isn’t going to go away, though.  Christianists are going to keep trying to take over the government and force us all to live by their rules.  Which is really not very Christian, IMHO.

The idea that the government should regulate stuff that is based on religious principles is one that I’m not too clear on.  I don’t get it why, for instance, Catholic bishops would issue a statement on it.  There are plenty of sinful actions that are perfectly legal.  It’s pretty easy to go anywhere (including church) and see people who are obviously gluttons.  But I haven’t seen any statements about that.  The non-shrieky argument above says “For a Christian to encourage a gay person in the consummation of a gay “marriage” is to encourage their permanent indulgence in a lust of the flesh that Scripture clearly tells us God finds detestable, and to suffer all the spiritual consequences that come with that. It would be like encouraging you to go hiking down a path where we know a deadly wild animal is waiting to devour you. Far from hating you, we’re loving you by warning you of the consequences and urging you to repent – which literally means to turn back and change directions.”  The connection that is not made here is, first, where it says in the scriptures that people are supposed to force others not to sin, and second, where it says in the scriptures that Christians are supposed to make laws of man match the laws of God, as they understand them.

These Christianists are the same people who are Tea Party members, wanting to regulate the behavior of others but at the same time be free from big government.  At least the Catholics are consistent – they believe in regulating the behavior of others AND in big government (clearly seen in the pope’s statements about the government’s responsibilities regarding the environment and income inequality).


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