12 November 2015

WRITTEN RECORD

Listening to certain "religious freedom" advocates these days, one may get the impression that the Colosseum had reopened, and that lions were roaring at the gates. Yet, that isn't happening. Not even a little.

Marriage Equality became reality in the United States after a very real series of lawsuits, over the last several years, culminated to the U. S. Supreme Court. And the transcript from that final case* - Obergefell v Hodges - lays bare the argument that ultimately resulted in national civil marriage equality.
"The intimate and committed relationships of same­ sex couples, just like those of heterosexual couples, provide mutual support and are the foundation of family life in our society.  If a legal commitment, responsibility and protection that is marriage is off limits to gay people as a class, the stain of unworthiness that follows on individuals and families contravenes the basic constitutional commitment to equal dignity. Indeed, the abiding purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment is to preclude relegating classes of persons to second-tier status."  (From civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto's opening statement)
The transcript is a must read, if only to remind us how important and correct the court's decision truly was, that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment denies marriage to no one.

As the written record shows, the opposition had its chance to make its case. And they lost. (The exchanges between the justices and John Bursch are particularly amusing.)

After four Republican debates so far, same sex marriage is clearly being treated as a non-issue, at least during the primaries. It remains to be seen if the GOP - which had a gay moment recently and blew it - will make a miscalculation and use "religious freedom" as a wedge issue come the general election.

Another point that is conveniently overlooked by the anti-gays is that, prior to the SCOTUS decision in June, most if not all same sex marriage bills passed over the last decade contained religious exemption clauses specifically to ensure there would be no unwanted overlap between civil and religious marriage.

The notion that gays would force churches to officiate their weddings is a total fabrication and fear mongering at its worst.

In spite of what low-level grifters like Kim Davis and those who hover around her would want, there will be no going backwards on this one. Religious freedoms are already carved into the First Amendment. Doing anything more would be redundant. Case closed.

Marriage should remain a non-issue throughout Election 2016. It's time to come together.

*of course the transcript from the oral arguments of the case that resulted in the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) - the United States v Windsor - is also essential reading.