Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Scalia makes the case for nationwide marriage equality.

Justice Scalia dissented from the Supreme Court's majority opinion on scrapping the Defense of Marriage Act in a rather interesting way today—He actually started writing the court's opinion scrapping all restrictions on marriage equality. See page 23 of his "Old man yells at cloud"-esque opinion here.

How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status. Consider how easy (inevitable) it is to make the following substitutions in a passage from today’s opinion ante, at 22: 
DOMA’s This state law’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages constitutionally protected sexual relationships, see Lawrence, and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA this state law contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State enjoying constitutionally protected sexual relationships, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.” 
Or try this passage, from ante, at 22–23: 
[DOMA] This state law tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages relationships are unworthy of federal state recognition.This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage relationship. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, . . . .” 
Or this, from ante, at 23—which does not even requirealteration, except as to the invented number: 
“And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”
Scalia understands that if the majority's opinion is accepted, then one must accept marriage equality everywhere, but he still thinks the original argument is wrong. So he's half right.

Also, I can't pass up this juicy morsel: He goes on for some time in another passage about how a person may disagree with same-sex marriage without affronting human decency.
By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.
 If I may take the risk of imitating such an esteemed philosopher:
By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex interracial marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.
That's called a burn, son. Get some aloe.