It’s full of … emanations and penumbras!
Not since Justice Douglas first delivered us the emanations and penumbras from the Constitution have we seen interpretations of law and opinions so broad as to be unintelligible.
Same-sex couples won the right to marry nationwide Friday as a divided Supreme Court handed a crowning victory to the gay rights movement, setting off a jubilant cascade of long-delayed weddings in states where they had been forbidden. “No longer may this liberty be denied,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. The vote was narrow – 5-4 – but Kennedy’s majority opinion was clear and firm: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.
By my count, 35 states had homogamy legalized by either federal or state judicial fiat prior to Obergefell, overturning either state legislatures or popular vote in those instances. The states of Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington along with the District of Columbia had legislation adopted to legalize it. So in the majority of states those courts overruled the will of the people. Now the SCOTUS dispenses with the will of the people in the remaining 14 states who’ve had marriage protection laws by simply stating:
The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex… The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. – Justice Kennedy, delivering affirming opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges
In another ruling coming as a slap in the face to morality, Justice Kennedy was again the pivotal deciding vote. Remember who appointed Justice Kennedy to the bench? Hint: He was a California REPUBLICAN. Is it any wonder how voting Republican to keep conservatives on the Supreme Court bench worked out? Perhaps this will finally teach us that voting third party, as in Constitution Party candidates Michael Peroutka or Chuck Baldwin, wasn’t the wasted vote we thought. Unfortunately, I’m dubious to think that 2016 for Christians will be any different.
This Obergefell v. Hodges ruling will go down in history with Roe v. Wade as Supreme Court rulings that divided a nation. The Supreme Court justices were sharply divided in this ruling. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito each wrote dissenting opinions for the court, a rare thing. Scalia’s is particularly scathing of Justice Kennedy’s affirmation. This is but another dividing wedge, as is abortion, gun control, etc. Both of these decisions coming by the will of select judges and not the will of the people serve to further undermine the democratic process.
Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. 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. – Chief Justice John Roberts, dissenting opinion, Obergefell v. Hodges
It may have closed the debate for five lawyers, but it won’t close the debate in the public arena. I suspect this will, in fact, become the new battleground, just as Christians fought on the beachhead of abortion for decades. The charade that is the bifurcated Republican/Democrat political elite is over. The charade of the rule of laws is over. There is only the question of upon which side the Christian happens to be as the line between good and evil is drawn.
However, even as we struggle as a church to come to a unified response to this blatant rejection of the entire history of humankind and its practice of marriage, “We shall obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state. We will resist its imposition of falsehood upon us, even as we continue to reach out to those who continue to be harmed by the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage. And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians, churches and people of good will who are resolute on this issue.
God help us. Amen.