Conservative Politicians Are Debating Marriage Equality Again And That Should Terrify You
In terms of recognizing same sex marriage, the United States was far behind other progressive nations including Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2005), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010) along with Iceland and Argentina- both who made Marriage Equality law of the land nearly a decade ago.
Under the Obama administration, the United States Supreme Court was locked in a heated battle with conservative states who, mostly by the virtue of religion, wanted to define marriage as a “Union between one man and one woman.” Since 2012, hundreds of LGBT couples and activists sued states, including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, that refused to allow them the right to marry. Those contentious legal disputes are what led to the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges that saw the Court- and although that culminated in a historic victory for the LGBT community, four conservative Judges of the prestigious bench were outraged they had lost. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas who opposed marriage equality writing a series of scathing dissents.
Scalia wrote afterward, “Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie."
Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that he believe the issue of same sex marriage “…Should be no concern to us. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent that “The Court’s decision today is at odds with, not only the constitution, but the principles upon which our nation was built.”
That was then… this is now.
Our Supreme Court, with the addition of two conservative Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, both appointed by Donald Trump after the death of Antonin Scalia and retirement of Anthony Kennedy, is now a conservative majority.
That conservative court, right this moment, has elected to reconsider whether LGBT people are to be included in protections of the 1964 civil rights act. The Supreme Court chose to do this because, the argue, the language in the monumental act protects against discrimination due to: “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” and does not reference sexual orientation or gender. This leaves LGBTQ Americans vulnerable to losing their jobs, housing, being refused service or disallowed in certain public places, such as bathrooms.
I have previously written about the possibility of the Supreme Court possibly re-deliberating and rolling back marriage equality now that religion has gained a heavy political foothold in the Trump era. The court has, after all, recently decided to revisit other landmark cases due to religious pressure, including Roe vs. Wade, which may render women with no sovereignty over their own reproductive choices.
The conservative states who opposed marriage equality vowed that “The fight is not over” after the ruling. More recently, Justice Clarence Thomas made the shocking admission that he wanted the court to revisit its “stare decisis” doctrine- an article which acknowledges the precedent of previous rulings and discourages overturning them in a form of double jeopardy. Whereas once before, once a ruling was passed down, it was indisputably the law of the land and no longer negotiable, now Thomas wants to reconsider the gravity of that article which would allow the Supreme Court to re-litigate important cases and, possibly, overturn the previous decision.
As I write this, Senators, cabinet members like Mike Pompeo and congressmen who, like Donald Trump, rely on the support of religious radicalism to fund their campaigns and to tip the voting scales in their favor each election season are convening to discuss pathways to overturn marriage equality- and they’re leveraging the merits of that argument on Trump’s new goal to restore Natural Law, as it is written according to the Bible.
If LGBT people are left out in the cold when it comes to civil rights, marriage equality will be next. Once the Conservative Republicans gained control of the Senate, the Department of Justice, The Supreme Court and lower courts- Trump has appointed nearly 1 in 4 of the nation’s federal appeals court judges and 1 in 7 of its district court judges; Mostly white, mostly christian men.
As we move toward a country that thumbs its nose at the concept of Separation of Church and State and we witness the President trounce upon the Constitution as if it’s a mere suggestion rather than law- even calling it “archaic” and “Really bad” — all certainties the law once provided minority communities, including women, at a basic humane level are once again up for debate by those wielding power.