struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed an appeal of California’s Proposition 8 on grounds of standing. But what does this mean? What are the implications of the court decisions? Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from today’s rulings:
The court did not claim to have discovered a fundamental “right” to
marry. If it had done so, it could have imposed a redefinition of
marriage on the entire country, forcing widespread recognition of “gay
marriage.” Instead, the court chose to issue a more limited ruling,
saying in its DOMA decision that the states are free to define marriage
as they see fit, but if they choose to
recognize same-sex “marriage,” the federal government must acknowledge
these “marriages” alongside the marriages of one man and one woman.
States are still free to hold a view of marriage as one man, one woman
if they choose to do so. This is a silver lining on a court decision
that could have been absolutely devastating.
Overturning DOMA means that the federal government will recognize “gay
marriage” in the states that allow it. This will affect more than 1,000
regulations and legal provisions, and could have a sweeping impact on
both the legal and cultural understanding of what marriage is. And by
dismissing Prop 8, the court is allowing a lower ruling to stand, paving
the way for “gay marriage” in California. In addition, since the
federal government must acknowledge all state-recognized marriages,
there will be increased pressure on the states to redefine marriage.
The majority opinion in DOMA makes the claim that those who
support the law do so in order to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,”
“demean” and “humiliate” gay individuals. This is very bad news for
those who defend marriage not out of animus or hatred but because they
believe that marriage is rooted in divine and natural law and is not
ours to redefine. As Justice Scalia explained in a scathing dissent, the
court today has declared those who oppose a redefinition of marriage to
be “enemies of the human race.” Supporters of marriage as it has been
understood by virtually every society throughout human history need to
be prepared for social persecution, since even the nation’s high court
now assumes that defending marriage is based on hatred and bigotry
rather than a natural understanding of the sacred purpose of human
sexuality. Defenders of marriage may find that their rights to voice
their beliefs and live according to them are quickly eroding after this
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