Sunday, June 28, 2015

Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court

I just finished reading the entire ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States on the topic of marriage equality and legalizing the same sex marriage in all 50 States. I approach this as a strong proponent of gay marriage and as someone who was particularly pleased when my beloved Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003.

I am not a lawyer and reading all 103 pages of legal opinions was a challenging intellectual task for me. To my utter shock and disbelief I found myself actually more understanding of the dissenters ... the following are arguments that resonated with me:
1. The wave of legalization of gay marriage was taking place everywhere through democratic process. I fear the ruling will take the steam out of it and will now leave us like with Roe v Wade fearing the balance in the Court and hoping for Obama to get the opportunity to name one more progressive judge lest we get a Republican for president and end up with a conservative majority that would cause reversals for both them right to chose and the marriage equality issues.
2. I found and this was particularly shocking for me great logic in Justice Thomas argument about liberty how it can be encroached upon by the State but not be given by it. His argument about dignity and how the State can't bestow it or deny it was also interesting.
3. The argument of the likely encroachment on the religious rights of those who oppose same sex marriage also resonated with me. How would religious colleges deal with this issue without breaking the law when it comes to same sex married couples demanding on campus accommodation for example.
4. I was puzzled by why Justice Alito did not join Chief Justice Roberts dissenting opinion and why Roberts did not join Alito's. Would love to understand a bit more about that and I assume re read of both may help.
5. The dissent from Roberts was very strong and covered multiple facets legal, political and conceptual. The point on polyamorous marriages was particularly powerful and resonated with me.
6. I wish there would have been a way for the Supreme Court to take a narrower view, forcing the States to recognize the marriages of other states and countries. I doubt this would have been possible without the broader acceptance of the intent of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
The elegance and the beauty of the US system of government are displayed at their best in rulings such as this. I don't really believe in the concept of national pride for any nation, but if I were to become such a believer, it is something like this ruling and its dissenters that would be making truly proud of being an American.

Ayman S. Ashour
June 28, 2015