My Feelings About Today’s Supreme Court Decisions
In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court today struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide the case regarding the 2008 California voter initiative Proposition 8, which defined all marriages in the state as between a man and woman.
The court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision, said that the act wrote inequality into federal law and violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of equal liberty.
“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he wrote.
In the second case, the court said that it could not rule on a challenge to Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California passed by voters there in 2008, because supporters of the ban lacked the legal standing to appeal a lower court’s decision against it.
The court did not rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage, but the effect of the decision will be to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California. That decision was also 5-4, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
I had eagerly awaited, along with many Americans, the outcome of these two cases, and wondered when the Supreme Court’s rulings might come. Shortly before 1PM I left work for the day and was on the phone with our full-time missionaries as I was driving through the local Taco Bell drive thru to grab some lunch. As I ordered and chatted with one of our missionaries I also began checking emails on my phone, and (since I wasn’t already doing five things at once) turned on the radio to catch NPR’s top of the hour news. It was there, while paying for my lunch, talking on the phone, and reading emails, that I first heard of the court’s decision regarding Propostion 8, and I was so surprised I nearly ran into both the car in front of me and the side of Taco Bell.
I have written extensively before in regards to my personal feelings in regards to gay marriage and civil rights, and the church released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the Supreme Court on the cases involving marriage:
“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.
“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.
“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”
As the afternoon progressed I saw social media explode with people outspoken on both ends of the same sex marriage spectrum. Some of my closest friends on Facebook rejoiced and put up rainbows as their profile pictures. Some others of my closest friends decried today’s SCOTUS decision as a sure sign that Jesus will be coming back soon to burn the whole planet. It was interesting to see people from both ends of the spectrum interacting, commenting on one another’s posts, each calling the other side a group of bigots, and both groups of people being equally nasty towards one another.
My personal feelings are simply this:
Today the Supreme Court struck down a law defending traditional marriage nationwide and a voter initiative defending traditional marriage in California. As a Christian there are parts of this that trouble me. However, Jesus Christ at no point today struck down the Golden Rule. At no point did the Lord descend in a pillar of fire and say it was now okay to be uncivil and unkind to people who you happen to disagree with politically or on social issues. Christian love and charity of heart were not struck down. So my fellow Christians, although today is a day that many find entirely dreadful, that does not excuse us from showing love and kindness. Period. End of story.
Do I disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling? Perhaps. But what the Supreme Court rules does not change how I live my daily life as a Christian and a Latter-day Saint. All are children of God, straight folks, homosexuals, and everyone else. It is the call of the Master to love everyone as He loves them. And perhaps the best way to show our love won’t be in mean spirited comments online, but then again, what do I know?