prepare for the backlash

A part of me naturally is exultant at today’s 4-3 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court striking down a state ban on same-sex marriages [link is to the Washington Post article], ruling that the right to marry includes “the right to marry the person of one’s choice,” and requiring the state legislature to take steps to comply with the ruling within 180 days.

Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family–these are among the most basic of every individual’s liberty and due process rights. And central to personal freedom and security is the assurance that the laws will apply equally to persons in similar situations.

But the cynical, pessimistic side is convinced that this will be the impetus for a successful federal constitutional amendment permanently barring marriage–and probably even any near-comparable civil unions or other legal status–between same-sex partners in the U.S.

[Full text of the decision, from FindLaw] (Adobe PDF)

3 thoughts on “prepare for the backlash

  1. Well, I don’t know if I’m so pessimistic as to think that a constitutional amendment would have any final success. I mean, you’d have to get two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures to sign on, right? My gut feeling (and this is all I have to base this on right now) says not likely.

  2. Jeff: I sure hope you’re right and I’m being unduly pessimistic. Originally I thought the success of such a constitutional amendment would be unlikely as well, but in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, the consecration of Bishop Robinson and now Goodridge v. Department of Public Health and the potential public backlash I’m just not so sure.
    For example, the Post reported October 25 that “Republican lawmakers and conservative activists are making plans to turn gay marriage into a major issue in next year’s elections, with some Christian groups saying that banning same-sex unions is a higher immediate priority for them than restricting abortion.” It continued, “Recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, and activists on both sides predicted that the prospective Massachusetts ruling could reignite the nation’s culture wars at an intensity not seen since the Clinton administration.”
    “A House Republican aide said congressional leaders would probably push for a constitutional amendment next year, ‘if there is a confluence of court rulings and a groundswell of public opinion.'”
    “‘Some conservatives who usually are reluctant to support constitutional amendments wouldn’t stand in the way of the will of the House if courts are distorting the essence and purpose of marriage,’ the strategist said. ‘In an election year, it would be good to get folks on the record. Democrats who usually would be tempted to vote against us might join us out of fear of looking extreme.'”
    Thirty-seven states already have enacted laws against recognizing same-sex marriages. That’s three-quarters right there that might be willing to ratify such an amendment.
    Truly, though, today was momentous, and I’m very very happy at the moment.

  3. Don’t Govenors also have to vote on ammendments? I don’t know why I think that but I do. I seriously doubt they could get an ammendment like that but odder things have happend I suppose.

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